Group wants immediate transition of power, will not accept any transitional setup, spokesman says
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AA) – The Taliban have captured the presidential palace in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, a Taliban spokesman said.
The capture came following an eventful day, which saw minute-to-minute developments, including the Taliban’s entry to the besieged capital and the departure of embattled President Ashraf Ghani along with his close aides.
Ghani, who was dubbed as former president by the head of Afghanistan’s National Reconciliation Council Abdullah Abdullah in a video message, left the country.
“He (Ghani) left Afghanistan in a hard time, God holds him accountable,” Abdullah said in a video message in the Persian language.
Following the departure of Ghani, former President Hamid Karzai, veteran politicians Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Abdullah formed a council with the aim to ensure a smooth transfer of power.
Defending his much-expected decision, Ghani, though it is not clear if he has officially resigned, said in a message that he has left Kabul in order to avoid bloodshed.
Zabihullah Mijahud, the Taliban spokesman, who announced the Taliban’s deployment in several parts of Kabul, and capture of the presidential palace, nonetheless, did not announce the seizure of power.
He said the Taliban will not accept any transitional setup, instead, he added, the group wants an immediate transition of power.
A delegation of the Taliban’s military commission is present at the presidential palace to negotiate the transfer of power, Mujahid told ABC News.
The Taliban’s consultative council has already announced a general amnesty for the Afghan forces and the government officials in case of unconditional surrender.
US forces helicopters were seen carrying out back and forth flights between the American Embassy and Kabul airport to evacuate US diplomats.
“Kabul looks like a ghost city as I speak. All shops, markets, and restaurants are closed. Roads and streets wear a deserted look,” Anis Khan, a Kabul-based journalist told local broadcaster Geo News.
“The city is in grip of fear and confusion,” Khan added.