The Taliban entered the outskirts of the Afghan capital on Sunday. With the panic mode setting in, workers fled government offices and helicopters landed at the US Embassy as the militant group further tightened their grip on the country. While three Afghan officials, in a statement to The Associated Press, said that the Taliban were in the Kalakan, Qarabagh and Paghman districts in the capital, the Taliban said that they will not take the capital of Kabul “by force”.
“No one’s life, property and dignity will be harmed and the lives of the citizens of Kabul will not be at risk,” the Associated Press quoted the Taliban as saying.
They said that they would enter the Afghan capital rather peacefully. The insurgents also said that negotiations are underway in order to ensure that the transition process is safely completed and no lives, property and honour of people are compromised.
In a nationwide offensive, the Taliban have defeated, co-opted or sent Afghan security forces fleeing from wide swaths of the country.
Earlier, hours after the militants took control of Jalalabad, rapid shuttle flights of Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters near the embassy began. This also prompted diplomatic armored SUVs to leave the area.
While the US State Department did not respond to questions about the movements, smoke could be seen rising near the embassy’s roof as diplomats urgently destroyed sensitive documents. This was according to two American military officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, AP reported.
Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, which typically carry armed troops, later landed near the embassy, as well.
President Ashraf Ghani had spoken for the first time Saturday since the blitz began. The negotiations that he carried out with other warlords have surrendered to the Taliban or fled. This has left the Afghan president without any military option.
“The defense and security forces along with the international forces working for the security of Kabul city and the situation is under control,” AP quoted the presidency as saying amid the chaos.