Afghan President flees as Taliban takes over palace


President Ashraf Ghani left Afghanistan on Sunday following hours of negotiations for a peaceful transition of power as the Taliban amassed its fighters around the capital Kabul.

Aljazeera reports that the development comes in the wake of the Taliban’s stunning victory on the battlefield, capturing more than a dozen provincial capitals in less than two weeks.

Taliban ordered its fighters to enter Kabul to prevent looting after the local police deserted their posts, the armed group’s spokesman said on Sunday.

Earlier on Sunday, President Ghani promised via a television address to take responsibility for the security of the people of Kabul and meet anyone disturbing the law and order with “full force”.

But late on Sunday, Afghan officials told news agencies that he fled the country for Tajikistan as the Taliban was on the verge of capturing power.

Afghan Interior Minister Abdul Sattar Mirzakwal said there would be a “peaceful transfer of power” to a transitional government.

There was no immediate word on the situation from President Ghani. A palace official said he was in emergency talks with US peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad and top NATO officials.

Kabul residents reported seeing Taliban fighters peacefully enter some of Kabul’s outer suburbs.

US officials said diplomats were being ferried by helicopter to the airport from its embassy. More American troops were being sent to help in the evacuations.

US President Joe Biden said it was up to the Afghan military to hold its own territory. “An endless American presence in the middle of another country’s civil conflict was not acceptable to me,” Biden had said on Saturday.