‘Absolute doomsday scenario’ unfolds in Afghanistan: Taliban invade capital Kabul

The Taliban have invaded the Afghan capital Kabul, the Afghan interior ministry said. The capital was the only major city not yet in the hands of the Muslim extremist organization. It is not known whether violence was used. Among other things, it forces the US to bring its citizens to safety quickly. President Joe Biden warns of a “military response” if American personnel is endangered. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said there are “consultations” to end the war.

The jihadists say, in a statement, that they have ordered all fighters not to use force and to let go of all people who want to leave Kabul. Women are urged to go to safe places.

The Taliban claim they already have several important buildings. They would have already taken the Ministry of Defense and other government buildings, among others. Gunshots were also allegedly heard near the presidential palace.

Firm jaw beat

The Muslim extremists also took the important city of Jalalabad in the east without a fight earlier today, local authorities say. As a result, the Taliban have also taken control of the roads connecting the country to Pakistan.

“There are currently no fighting in Jalalabad because the governor has surrendered to the Taliban,” a local official told Reuters news agency. “Granting access to the Taliban was the only way to save civilian lives.”

On Saturday, the Taliban already captured the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balch province and the country’s fourth-largest city. Security forces have fled to the border with Uzbekistan. The fall of Mazar-e-Sharif is seen as disastrous for the Afghan government, which has now essentially lost control of the north of the country. It was precisely the north that used to be a stronghold for opponents of the Taliban.

“Consultations are moving forward”

Speaking to the nation this morning, President Ghani said “talks are underway” to quickly find a political solution that will guarantee “peace and stability” in Afghanistan. He also called for the remobilization of the Afghan armed forces. According to Ghani, “consultations” have been launched, which are “moving rapidly”, within the government, with local political officials and international partners. “The remobilization of our security forces is our number 1 priority,” the president added.

Meanwhile, three local politicians have reported the fall of Sharana, the capital of the eastern province of Paktika. The radical Islamic Taliban were able to take the city without a fight. Influential elders from the province are said to have mediated between the insurgents and the authorities to avoid “bloodshed”.

Evacuations

Several countries have nevertheless started the evacuation of embassy personnel and Afghans who have assisted them in recent years, such as interpreters.

For example, as many as 5,000 American soldiers are sent to Afghanistan to support the evacuation of diplomats and other civilians. That is 2,000 more than previously announced. Some have already arrived.

Taliban fighters in Herat, Afghanistan's third largest city.
Taliban fighters in Herat, Afghanistan’s third-largest city. ©AFP

According to Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, the US is ready to evacuate the capital by air, “thousands of people a day”. In addition, Washington is now deploying an additional 4,000 troops in Kuwait and about 1,000 in Qatar. According to the spokesman, there is currently no imminent threat to Kabul, despite the Taliban advance. Kirby does acknowledge that the Islamists are trying to isolate the capital.

President Joe Biden warns to come with “a swift and strong military response” if the militants endanger American personnel in Afghanistan. The president said the message had been conveyed to representatives of the Muslim extremists in Qatar in a statement released on Saturday. The warning applies to “any Taliban action on the ground in Afghanistan that endangers US personnel or our mission there.”

For the safety of the embassy staff, the destruction of confidential documents has also started. Thousands of papers are being thrown into the incinerator and shredder in the US embassy, AFP reports based on an internal memo. It asks that all documents bearing the embassy logo, the American flag, and “other documents that could be used for propaganda purposes” be destroyed. According to a spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this is a “standard procedure” when scaling down the diplomatic presence in a country.

Biden has instructed the armed forces and intelligence services to “ensure that we maintain the ability and vigilance to face future terrorist threats from Afghanistan.” Speaking about the evacuation of Afghans who have assisted US troops, he said: “We are working to evacuate thousands of people and their families who have supported our cause.”

Germany is also preparing for all scenarios to evacuate the diplomats and staff of the German embassy in the Afghan capital, Kabul. “The highest priority right now is the safety of our embassy staff,” said Foreign Minister Heiko Maas. “We will not run the risk of our people falling into the hands of the Taliban. We are prepared for all scenarios,” said the minister in the Sunday edition of Bild magazine.

Government claims dead military leader

The Afghan interior ministry, meanwhile, says a senior Taliban military leader has been killed in the battle for the city of Maymana. In addition, at least 26 members of the radical Islamic group are said to have been killed. According to the ministry, an attack on the city has been repulsed by the army and civilians. Maymana is the capital of the northern province of Faryab. About 70,000 people live in the city.

Due to the rapid advance, the Taliban extremists have obtained many weapons and vehicles of the Afghan army. On social media, fighters show off the weaponry, often from the United States. Members of US intelligence say that the scenario that the Taliban would take over weapons was considered during the delivery, just as IS did before in Iraq. However, the speed at which it is currently happening would have been the absolute doomsday scenario.

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