Taliban forces have taken control of Kabul, the Afghan capital, including the presidential palace, following the country’s president Ashraf Ghani’s flight to Tajikistan.
On an official Telegram account, one of its units published images of the Palace interior – ostensibly undamaged but abandoned by Afghan officials. A few hours earlier, a video released on social media showed fighters arriving at Kabul’s Presidential Palace.
Zabihullah Mujahid, the group’s spokesman, previously stated that the group’s soldiers would begin infiltrating regions of the city where government officials and security officers had abandoned their posts.
“This morning, the Islamic Emirate issued a statement stating that our soldiers were located outside the city of Kabul and that we did not wish to invade Kabul via armed means,” he explained. “However, we are already receiving indications that district police offices have been evacuated, police officers have abandoned their security duties, ministries have been vacated, and Kabul administration security employees have fled.”
“Therefore, in order to prevent looting and burglary in Kabul and to deter opportunists from injuring the populace, the Islamic Emirate has advised its forces to approach sections of the city where the enemy has departed and regions are vulnerable to looting and burglary,” he continued.
According to social media posts and eyewitness testimonies, the Taliban’s presence in the city is increasing.
“Our forces are silently entering the city; they will cause no disruption; government employees, civilian and military, should rest assured that they will not be harmed; no Mujahid is permitted to enter people’s homes or to cause injury or inconvenience to anyone,” the group’s spokesperson continued.
The Taliban takeover occurs in the midst of a large evacuation attempt by the United States and NATO partners of its citizens and support staff from the country.
Earlier reports indicated that a transitional administration would be created, but President Ghani’s departure appears to have scuttled those plans.
A meeting between a high-level Afghan government team and the Taliban scheduled for Doha “may not happen,” a source familiar with the intra-Afghan discussions told CNN on Sunday.
Regardless, Abdullah Abdullah, Chairman of the High Council for National Reconciliation, politician Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and former President Hamid Karzai have formed a Coordinating Council to “better manage the issues of peace and peaceful transfer,” Karzai stated in a statement.