PRESIDENT ASHRAF GHANI FLEES THE COUNTRY
Sunday August 15, 8pm:
President Ashraf Ghani has left Afghanistan as the Taliban prepare to take power.
“The former Afghan president has left the nation,” Abdullah Abdullah, the head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said in a video on his Facebook page.
A senior interior ministry official told Reuters news agency that Ghani left for Tajikistan.
Meanwhile, an Afghan government delegation is due to travel to Qatar to meet with representatives of the Taliban.
Reuters also reported that the delegation and Taliban representatives will be discussing the transition of power, and that U.S. officials are expected to be involved in the talks.
KABUL SURROUNDED AS GOVERNMENT ON VERGE OF FALLING
Sunday August 15, 12pm:
Foreign-backed Afghan government officials are in negotiations for a peaceful transfer of power after the capital Kabul was encircled.
Taliban troops surrounded Kabul on Sunday but promised not to attack as handover talks were under way.
They instructed their fighters to refrain from violence and offer safe passage to anyone wishing to leave Kabul.
Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen tweeted: “Mujahideen should pay utmost attention to the treasury, public facilities, gov. offices, equipment of gov. offices, parks, roads, bridges. These are the trust and property of the nation; no personal tampering and negligence should be done with them but be strictly guarded.
“IEA (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) has its door open for all those who have previously worked and helped the invaders, or are now standing in the ranks of the corrupt Kabul Adm. and already announced amnesty. We once again invite them all to come and serve the nation and the country.
“Recently the Kabul Adm has launched baseless and vicious propaganda, sometimes claiming, the Islamic Emirate forces people to marry their daughters, or to marry them to the Mujahidin. Sometimes they say that the Mujahidin are killing people, killing prisoners and captives, and allegedly making various accusations. All are baseless.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is not interested in anyone’s private property, (not in anyone’s cars, land, houses, markets and shops), rather it considers protection of lives and properties of the nation its primary responsibility.
“All those claims that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan forces people to marry their young girls to Mujahideen are totally wrong. It is a poisonous propaganda.
Afghan Minister of the Interior Abdul Sattar Mirzakwal said there will be a “peaceful transfer of power” to a transitional government.
“The Afghan people should not worry… There will be no attack on the city and there will be a peaceful transfer of power to the transitional government,” he said in a speech.
Meanwhile, a source close to President Ashraf Ghani has denied reports that he has fled the country, saying the president spent most of the morning in the garden of the ARG Presidential Palace with the first lady.
This page will be updated as the situation develops.