Taliban Enter Kabul, President Ashraf Ghani To Step Down, Say Reporst

Kabul: Taliban terrorists entered Afghanistan's capital Kabul today as the United States evacuated diplomats from its embassy by helicop...


Kabul: Taliban terrorists entered Afghanistan's capital Kabul today as the United States evacuated diplomats from its embassy by helicopter and a government minister said power would be handed over to an interim administration. A senior interior ministry official told Reuters the Taliban rebels were coming "from all sides" into the capital but gave no further details. There were no reports of fighting.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement that the group was in talks with the government for a peaceful surrender of Kabul.

"Taliban fighters are to be on standby on all entrances of Kabul until a peaceful and satisfactory transfer of power is agreed," the statement said. The entry into the capital caps a lightning advance by Taliban who were ousted from Kabul 20 years ago by the United States after the September 11 attacks

The collapse of the Afghan government defence has stunned diplomats -- just last week, a US intelligence estimate said Kabul could hold out for at least three months.

There was no immediate word on the situation from President Ashraf Ghani, who said on Saturday he was in urgent consultations with local leaders and international partners on the situation. Reports said he was going to step down and make way for a Taliban commander to take over.

Power would be handed over to a transitional administration, the government's acting interior minister, Abdul Sattar Mirzakawal, said in a tweet on the Tolo news channel. "There won't be an attack on the city, it is agreed that there will be a peaceful handover," he said without elaborating.

The head of the Taliban's political bureau, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, is heading to Kabul from Doha, a Taliban source in the Qatari capital said. A tweet from the Afghan presidential palace account said firing had been heard at a number of points around Kabul but that security forces, in coordination with international partners, had control of the city. Many of Kabul's streets were choked by cars and people either trying to rush home or reach the airport, residents said. "Some people have left their keys in the car and have started walking to the airport," one resident told Reuters by phone.

Another said: "People are all going home in fear of fighting." Afghans have fled the provinces to enter Kabul in recent days, fearing a return to hardline Islamist rule.

Early on Sunday, refugees from Taliban-controlled provinces were seen unloading belongings from taxis and families stood outside embassy gates, while the city's downtown was packed with people stocking up on supplies.

US officials said diplomats were being ferried by helicopters to the airport from its embassy in the fortified Wazir Akbar Khan district. More American troops were being sent to help in the evacuations after the Taliban's surge brought the Islamist group to Kabul in a matter of days. "Core" US team members were working from the Kabul airport, a US official said, while a NATO official said several EU staff had moved to a safer, undisclosed location in the capital. Earlier on Sunday, the terrorists captured the eastern city of Jalalabad without a fight, giving them control of one of the main highways into landlocked Afghanistan.

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Local Glob: Taliban Enter Kabul, President Ashraf Ghani To Step Down, Say Reporst
Taliban Enter Kabul, President Ashraf Ghani To Step Down, Say Reporst
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