Taliban say they have taken over the Presidential Palace in Kabul

Taliban to declare ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’

Afghan President Ghani had reason to fear for his life

Kabul, Aug 15 (IANS) The Taliban are claiming to have taken over the presidential palace in Kabul, BBC reported.

President Ashraf Ghani left the country earlier on Sunday – but the exact situation at the palace is still unclear.

According to local journalist Bilal Sarwary who spoke to two Afghans involved in direct negotiations, part of the agreement was that Ghani would join the transition of power ceremony inside the palace – but instead he and his senior aides left the country.

“Palace employees were then reportedly told to leave and the palace was (left) empty,” the aides said. The Taliban later told a global wire service that they had taken it over.

There has been no confirmation from government officials.

Two officials from the Taliban told the wire there would be no transitional government following their lighting sweep across Afghanistan that led back to the capital two decades after the group were overthrown by US-led forces.

Ghani’s destination was uncertain: a senior Interior Ministry official said he had left for Tajikistan, while a Foreign Ministry official said his location was unknown and the Taliban said it was checking his whereabouts.

Some local social media users branded him a “coward” for leaving them in chaos.

Taliban fighters reached Kabul “from all sides”, the senior Interior Ministry official told the wire and there were some reports of sporadic gunfire around the city.

BBC reported an NGO which runs a hospital in Kabul claims more than 40 people have arrived at their hospital – most coming from the Qarabagh area, where there has been fighting.

The tweet, which cannot be independently verified by the BBC, says 22 people have been treated in hospital and those with more minor injuries have been referred to other facilities.

More casualties were arriving, it added.

There are reports of gunfire at Kabul’s airport, according to a security alert just issued by the US Embassy.

Officials have instructed US citizens in the area to take shelter, as “the security situation in Kabul is changing quickly”.

The Taliban issued a statement under the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” banner saying the group has now been permitted to enter Kabul.

The statement claimed that Afghan police and other relevant institutions abandoned their duties and that to “prevent theft, looting and crime”, the group’s forces have been allowed to enter the capital.

“The Taliban will secure areas abandoned by Afghan forces in Kabul,” said the statement.

It sought to assure citizens that the forces will neither enter their homes, nor “bother them”.

Afghan President Ghani had reason to fear for his life


Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani had a reason to fear that his life was in danger as Taliban forces closed in on Kabul, an analyst told Al Jazeera.

“President Ghani has a real reason to fear that his life was under threat,” Asfandyar Mir, an expert at United States institute of peace, told Al Jazeera.

“… many Afghans will be disappointed, the contradiction in his messages until yesterday. The fact that he could not hold the country together politically or put up any kind of a military resistance will disappoint his supporters,” he said.

Abdullah Abdullah, head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, has posted a video to Facebook confirming that Ghani has left the country.

He said that Ghani left the people of Afghanistan in mess and misery and God will hold him accountable and the country will judge.

He has asked people to keep calm and for the Afghan security forces to cooperate in ensuring security.

Afghan Defence Minister Bismillah Mohammadi, in a tweet apparently referring to Ghani and his associates, lamented that they “Tied our hands behind our backs and sold the homeland, damn the rich man and his gang”.

VOA reported Ghani, along with his Vice President and other senior officials, flew out of the country on Sunday, setting the stage for Taliban insurgents to regain power in Afghanistan 20 years after a US-led military invasion ousted them.

There was no comment from Ghani or his embattled administration in Kabul. In a record message on Saturday, Ghani had told the nation he was consulting with both national and international players on the situation which he called an “imposed war”.

Vice President Amrullah Saleh, who is said to have accompanied Ghani and the others who left, in a tweet, vowed not to bow to the Taliban, but he did not respond in the message to reports of him leaving the country.

On Sunday morning, a Taliban delegation engaged prominent Afghan jihadi leaders, politicians and elders in negotiations that culminated in Ghani stepping down from office, sources directly aware of the developments told VOA.

Taliban to declare ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’

Kabul:- The Taliban, who on Sunday entered capital, Kabul, are on the verge of declaring that they have taken control of the country and that it is now the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, according to Press Association reports citing a Taliban official.

The declaration is expected to be made from the presidential palace in Kabul following the departure of Afghanistan President, Ashraf Ghani, earlier, who apparently fled, initially to Tajikistan. His current location is unconfirmed, the Guardian reported.

The Taliban are claiming to have taken over the presidential palace in Kabul, BBC reported.

President Ghani left the country earlier on Sunday – but the exact situation at the palace is still unclear.

According to local journalist Bilal Sarwary who spoke to two Afghans involved in direct negotiations, part of the agreement was that Ghani would join the transition of power ceremony inside the palace – but instead he and his senior aides left the country.

“Palace employees were then reportedly told to leave and the palace was (left) empty,” the aides said. The Taliban later told a global wire service that they had taken it over.

There has been no confirmation from government officials.

Two officials from the Taliban told the wire there would be no transitional government following their lighting sweep across Afghanistan that led back to the capital two decades after the group were overthrown by US-led forces.

Ghani’s destination was uncertain: a senior Interior Ministry official said he had left for Tajikistan, while a Foreign Ministry official said his location was unknown and the Taliban said it was checking his whereabouts.

The American flag at the US embassy in Kabul has been removed, according to numerous media reports. The US Ambassador and the flag are reported now to be at the airport in Kabul, the only way out of Afghanistan with the capital surrounded by the Taliban and road crossings controlled by the extremist insurgency forces.

The last reports were that the US Embassy would be closed by Tuesday and was being staffed by a skeleton-level team. The situation on the ground is not completely clear, Guardian reported.

There is “pandemonium” at the airport, according to CNN’s reporter in Afghanistan, Clarissa Ward. The road to the airport is choked with traffic as Afghan people desperately try to reach it to take or seek a flight out.

This could account for the so-far unconfirmed and isolated reports of gunfire – ie chaos in the approach to the airport and frustration boiling over.


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