Archive for Tom Porter

Bernie Sanders refused to sign a statement condemning the protestors who harassed Sinema in the bathroom, report says

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in the Capitol on Wednesday, July 29, 2020.
  • Bernie Sanders declined to join in condemning protestors who confronted Kyrsten Sinema in a bathroom, Axios reported.
  • He wanted to include criticism of Sinema's political position in the statement, the report said.
  • Tensions between Democrats are mounting over President Biden's stalled spending bills.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Bernie Sanders refused to sign a statement condemning protestors who followed Kyrsten Sinema into a bathroom, a report from Axios said.

Sanders were close to signing, the report said, but backed out when other senators refused to amend the statement to criticize Sinema's political position.

The development comes amid escalating tensions between the progressive and moderate wings of the Democratic caucus.

Video posted on Twitter Sunday by an activist group showed protestors confronting Sinema, a Democratic senator from Arizona, on the campus of Arizona State University, where she teaches.

The protesters objected to Sinema's opposition to President Joe Biden's $3.5 trillion spending bill.

The bill has led to a flare up between Democratic moderates, who want it scaled back or oppose it, and progressives, who want it passed in its current form.

Axios reported Wednesday that Senate Democratic aides were close to getting Sanders to sign a statement condemning the protesters.

The document called their actions "plainly inappropriate and unacceptable." But, per the report, Sanders refused to join.

According to Axios, the sticking point was that the the statement would not include a condemnation of Sinema's political views by adding the text "While we hope Senator Sinema will change her position on prescription drug reform and support a major [budget] reconciliation bill...."

The proposed edit was ruled out by Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, who organized the statement.

Insider has contacted Sanders' office for comment on the report.

The development illustrates the tense stand-off between moderates and progressives in Congress that is imperiling Biden's domestic agenda.

Biden himself offered only partial condemnation of the protestors in remarks Monday. He said that, while the tactics were not appropriate, "it happens to everybody" not assigned Secret Service protection.

Owing to the extremely narrow majority that Democrats have in the Senate, they need all of their 50 senators to vote in favour of the reconciliation bill in order to pass it.

But Sinema and fellow moderate Sen. Joe Manchin are balking at its scope.

At the same time, progressives in the House of Representatives are refusing to approve Biden's $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, that was passed by the Senate in August, until the reconciliation bill is passed.

They believe that if they let the smaller bill pass, then the larger one will be watered down or even abandoned, so are reluctant to give up their leverage from blocking the $1.2 trillion package.

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Trump appeared to admit in a lawsuit that NYT report on his taxes – which his lawyer had dismissed – is actually true

President Donald Trump at the White House in October 2018.
  • Donald Trump's attorney in 2018 disputed the accuracy of aspects of the NYT expose on his taxes.
  • A new lawsuit makes no arguments on accuracy, instead attacking the motives of those behind it.
  • Some see this as an admission that Trump now concedes the report was accurate.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Back in 2018 when the bombshell New York Times exposé on Donald Trump's tax affairs was published, the president's attorney, Charles Harder, issued a broad denial.

"The New York Times's allegations of fraud and tax evasion are 100 percent false, and highly defamatory," Harder said in a statement to the publication. "There was no fraud or tax evasion by anyone. The facts upon which The Times bases its false allegations are extremely inaccurate."

But in launching a lawsuit this week against the Times and his niece, Mary Trump, over the report, the former president seems to have shifted his position.

In the suit filed on Tuesday in a state court, Trump sued the Times, three of its reporters, and his estranged niece for $100 million.

It alleged that they engaged in an "insidious plot" against him in seeking out and publishing information from the documents whose contents were protected by a confidentiality agreement.

Mary Trump responded to the lawsuit by calling her uncle "a loser", while the Times said in a statement Trump was seeking to silence news organisations.

Despite his earlier position, Trump does not in the lawsuit dispute the authenticity of the family financial records and other data that the Times based its reporting on, which Mary Trump provided to the Times.

Among those pointing out the apparent shift in Trump's claims about the accuracy of the report was NBC's Tom Winter.

"As far as this lawsuit, I think an interesting thing here is that it essentially proves the story," said Winter. "Because if the documents were, in fact, fake, there would be no reason here to sue. The president called this a totally fake news when The Times started publishing documents about his tax payments and about his tax returns, so this essentially substantiates their reporting, because otherwise, why would you sue and why would you claim damages?"

In fact Trump's response at the time was a little more nuanced than Winter's account admits, with the president not denying any specific claims in a tweet responding to the report.

"The Failing New York Times did something I have never seen done before. They used the concept of "time value of money" in doing a very old, boring and often told hit piece on me," wrote Trump on Twitter in response.

By using the concept of "time value of money" Trump seems to have been claiming that the Times did not take into account how the value of his fortune had changed, though tax experts in comments to NBC News at the time weren't entirely clear on what Trump was trying to say.

Insider has contacted a spokesperson for Trump for comment on whether he now concedes the report was accurate.

He issued a more sweeping dismissal last year of the Times' sweeping report into his tax and financial affair, describing it as "fake news."

The Pulitzer-winning 2018 report was one of a series in which the Times sought to unravel Trump's tax affairs, which he had shielded from public scrutiny by refusing to release his tax returns before running for office.

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Sen. Lindsey Graham dismissed Rudy Giuliani’s election-fraud arguments as the work of a third-grader, book says

Lindsey Graham
Sen. Lindsey Graham with President Donald Trump at the White House in January 2019.
  • Lindsey Graham was reportedly unimpressed with Rudy Giuliani's voter-fraud arguments.
  • He described them as "third grade", according to a new book, 'Peril', by Woodward and Costa.
  • Graham ultimately voted to certify Joe Biden's victory over Trump on January 6.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina described Rudy Giuliani's arguments that the 2020 election had been tainted by mass fraud as suitable for the "third grade," according to extracts of the new Bob Woodward book "Peril."

The anecdote was published by The Washington Post the latest in a string of explosive revelations from "Peril." The book, which Woodward co-wrote with Robert Costa, describes the chaotic end of the Trump administration.

According to the extract Graham, a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, met Giuliani in the White House on January 2 to see what evidence they had assembled to advance their baseless claims of fraud.

At the meeting, Giuliani discussed the election fraud evidence which he claimed could secure Trump a second term.

The meeting was reportedly convened in the West Wing office of Mark Meadows, Donald Trump's chief of staff. Per the extract, a data official working for Giuliani said that the level of support shown for Joe Biden in some areas was unrealistic.

Graham, though, was reportedly unimpressed.

"Give me some names," Graham reportedly said. "You need to put it in writing. You need to show me the evidence."

Several days later Giuliani's team are said to have sent dossiers of evidence to Graham's office, which the senator passed to Lee Holmes, the top attorney on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which Graham chairs.

Holmes thought the evidence was unpersuasive, and was unable to even establish that some of the source material even existed.

"Holmes found the sloppiness, the overbearing tone of certainty, and the inconsistencies disqualifying," the authors write, according to the Post. The memos, he determined, "added up to nothing."

Privately, Graham's assessment was withering, according to the authors, saying the arguments were suitable for the "third grade."

Graham was among the Republican members of Congress who'd been receptive to Trump's voter fraud claims.

He even contacted Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in November to discuss blocking the certification of some postal votes.

But ultimately Graham voted to certify Biden's election January 6, in a vote that was disrupted by the Capitol riot, when Trump supporters attacked Congress.

"Count me out. Enough is enough. I've tried to be helpful," said Graham on the Senate floor, distancing himself from the campaign to overturn the election.

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A Senate official dashed Democrats’ hopes of expanding citizenship for migrants in the $3.5 trillion budget bill

Demonstrators gather in front of the United States Supreme Court, where the Court is hearing arguments on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals - DACA - that could impact the fates of nearly 700,000 "dreamers" brought to the United States as undocumented children, on Tuesday, November 12, 2019, in Washington, DC.
  • The Senate parliamentarian said immigration reform can't be part of the $3.5 trillion bill.
  • She ruled it is incompatible with the "reconciliation" mechanism being used to pass it without the GOP.
  • The decision effectively means that any moves to reform the system will need Republican support.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A Senate official on Sunday ruled that Democrats will not be able to include immigration reform measures in their sweeping $3.5 trillion stimulus bill.

The decision, by Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough, is a harsh blow to Democrats hoping to squeeze changes to the system past with their tiny Congressional majority.

The Biden administration and Democrats had hoped to ease immigration rules and provide a path to citizenship for millions of migrants, a plan put in jeopardy by MacDonough's decision.

She was able to make the ruling because she oversees the application of the so-called "budget reconciliation" process, which allows certain financial measures to pass by a smaller margin than usual.

Without that loophole, Democrats would need to find support from Senate Republicans for their plans, an unlikely prospect.

MacDonough said: "Changing the law to clear the way to [legal permanent resident] status is tremendous and enduring policy change that dwarfs [any potential] budgetary impact," said MacDonough in documents explaining the decision, reported the Associated Press.

If Democrats decide to try and pass the immigration reform as a conventional Senate bill, it'd require 60 votes to pass and is all but certain to be blocked by Republicans.

Progressives and Democrats have long sought to provide a path to citizenship for migrants from certain key groups who currently inhabit a sort of legal limbo.

They include so-called "Dreamers" who were brought to the US as children, have lived in the US for their entire lives, but have no formal citizenship.

Other groups affected include some refugees allowed into the US because they were fleeing disasters or other catastrophes, and essential workers for sectors such as agriculture are others.

"We are deeply disappointed in this decision but the fight to provide lawful status for immigrants in budget reconciliation continues," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.

"Senate Democrats have prepared alternate proposals and will be holding additional meetings with the Senate parliamentarian in the coming days."

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attacked the Democrats, saying: "Democratic leaders refused to resist their progressive base and stand up for the rule of law, even though our border has never been less secure."

He said that attempting to pass the reforms using budget reconciliation were illegal.

The overall bill is President Joe Biden's signature piece of legislation, and will aim to fund a wide range of economic, green energy, infrastructure and social care reforms. Democrats are aiming to pass the bill over the next few weeks.

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Taliban fighters invited journalists to watch them gloat over the ruins of a CIA base which departing US forces destroyed

Taliban CIA base
Members of the Taliban Badri 313 military unit stand beside damaged and discarded vehicles parked near the destroyed Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) base in Deh Sabz district northeast of Kabul on September 6, 2021 after the US pulled all its troops out of the country.
  • The Taliban invited journalists to inspect the remains of the CIA's base in Kabul.
  • Reporters found detonated ammo dumps, and, surreally, an intact games room and pool tables.
  • The US destroyed the base as it retreated, hoping to keep intelligence from Taliban hands.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Taliban militants invited journalists to the ruins of Eagle Base, the notorious CIA base and detention facility just outside Kabul.

It was destroyed by the US as it made a hasty retreat from Afghanistan after the government fell in mid-August.

Militants from the elite Badri 313 unit accompanied journalists from outlets including the AFP news wire, The LA Times, Turkish news channel TRT News and others to inspect the site on September 6.

Taliban commander Mullah Hasnain told the AFP that militants watched the base for ten days as the US withdrew its forces, and saw multiple explosions at the site.

"We didn't stop them, even the last convoy that went by road to the airport. We didn't attack them, because we followed orders from our top officials," he said.

Hasnain said that one large crater at the site appeared to be an ammunition dump detonated by the US on August 27 in a vast explosion.

Taliban CIA base
Members of the Taliban Badri 313 military unit walk amid debris of the destroyed Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) base in Deh Sabz district northeast of Kabul on September 6, 2021 after the US pulled all its troops out of the country.

The blast came the day after a terror attack against refugees and US forces at Kabul airport, and was mistaken by some on the day for a second attack.

Not everything was ruined, Hasnain said, pointed out what he said were intact rockets. He asked reports not to touch them, adding "We can still shoot with them."

Reporters filmed surreal scenes as they wandered around the ruins, with one of the few intact buildings left at the site a recreation room with pool tables and a dart board, reported Ali Mustafa of TRT.

Nabih Bulos, a correspondent for the LA Times, in footage taken in the interior of one building showed debris, wild dogs running inside, and rows of what appear to be cage-like or cabinet-like structures in one room.

"Here they are saying that they found nothing. No computers, just empty rooms with lots of debris. They really did a number on this one," said Bulos.

US officials said the CIA detonated the base to prevent arms and intelligence from falling into the hands of the Taliban.

The base, a sprawling complex in a former factory not far from Kabul airport, had been the nerve center of US intelligence operations in Afghanistan for two decades.

It was one of the notorious "black sites," where detainees were interrogated and tortured in the wake of 9/11. It was also more recently used to train Afghan counterintelligence units.

The New York Times, on the basis of an analysis of satellite footage, found that as the US rushed to get citizens and allies out of Kabul in the wake of the Taliban seizing power on August 15, clandestine evacuations had taken place from the base.

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US officials found the body of an Afghan in the landing gear of a plane after it left Kabul, as hundreds tried to flee the Taliban by clinging to planes

Kabul airport
Footage on social media appeared to show Afghans attempting to cling on to a jet leaving Kabul's airport on Monday after the Taliban seized power.
  • A body was found in the landing gear of a US plane that departed Kabul on Monday, reports said.
  • Officials discovered the body after the plane's wheels would not go up after takeoff.
  • Chaos unfolded at Kabul's airport on Monday as desperate Afghans attempted to flee the Taliban.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The body of an Afghan citizen was found in the landing gear of a US Air Force C-17 that took off from Kabul's airport on Monday, US reports said.

Three US officials told The Washington Post that after the plane's landing gear would not go up, the crew investigated and later found the body in the wheel well.

Politico confirmed The Post's report, citing two sources familiar with the matter.

There was chaos at Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport on Monday after the Taliban seized the Afghan capital and retook power in a lightning-speed offensive.

Thousands of Afghans seeking to flee the Islamist group swarmed the runways, desperate to board planes transporting US personnel out of the country; all commercial flights were canceled.

In videos circulating on Monday, Afghans could be seen running alongside and clinging to a US plane as it taxied.

Other videos appeared to show people falling from planes to their deaths.

At least seven people were killed in the chaos, including people who fell from planes and two armed men shot by US troops, US officials told The Associated Press.

US forces temporarily closed the airport, seeking to control the crowds. It reopened early Tuesday to resume evacuations.

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Photos and videos appear to show Afghans trying to flee the Taliban falling out of planes as they leave Kabul airport

Kabul airport
Social-media footage apparently showing people clinging onto a jet leaving Kabul airport on August 16, 2021.
  • People clinging to jets leaving Kabul airport have fallen to their deaths, local media reports.
  • There are scenes of chaos at Kabul airport as crowds stormed the runaway and tried to enter planes.
  • The Taliban seized back control of Afghanistan in a rapid effort that overwhelmed Afghan forces.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

People have fallen to their deaths after clinging to C-17 jets taking off from Kabul airport, in an attempt to flee the Taliban in Afghanistan, local media reported.

Footage posted on Twitter by the Afghan news agency Aśvaka appeared to show a person falling from a plane as it took off from the airport.

Other photos - which Insider is not publishing due to their graphic nature - depict the bodies of people who had reportedly fallen onto the roofs of buildings in the Afghan capital from planes they attempted to stowaway on.

"Locals near Kabul airport claim that three young men who were holding themselves tightly in the tires of an airplane fell on top of people's houses. One of the locals confirmed this and said that the fall of these people made a loud and terrifying noise," the agency tweeted.

Other footage, apparently taken on the runway of Kabul airport, showed people attempting to cling onto a jet as it taxied down the runway.

The Afghan news channel TOLO also tweeted footage of a large crowd running alongside a jet on the runway as it tried to take off.

Insider has not independently verified the footage.

The incidents come amid scenes of desperation and terror at Kabul airport, as crowds of people attempting to flee the country swarmed onto runways in an attempt to board planes.

US troops evacuating American citizens fired warning shots on Monday, as airport security was overwhelmed.

Witnesses told Reuters that five people were killed as crowds attempted to forcibly enter aircraft preparing to depart. It was unclear whether the people were killed by gunfire or in a stampede.

Earlier on Monday, all international commercial flights from the airport were canceled, as the government of Afghanistan collapsed and the Taliban swept back into power.

Some nations, including the UK and Germany, are continuing to evacuate citizens and Afghans whom they had approved for asylum.

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The GOP quietly removed a webpage hailing Trump’s peace deal with the Taliban as the militant group seized power in Afghanistan

Trump Afghanistan
Then-President Donald Trump at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.
  • The GOP has removed a page hailing Trump's 2020 deal with the Taliban.
  • The removal was made on Sunday, amid scenes of chaos in Kabul as the Taliban seized back power.
  • Both Trump and Biden have sought to blame each other for the debacle.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The Republican Party has removed a page from its website that praised former President Donald Trump's peace deal with the Taliban and bid to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan.

The webpage, which was first posted on the Republican National Committee's website during last year's presidential election, had hailed Trump's foreign policy achievements. An archived version of the page can be found here.

The internet-archive site Wayback Machine noted that the page was removed on August 15, as chaotic scenes emerged from Kabul of US forces evacuating officials from its embassy as Taliban militants seized back control of the country.

Here is a screenshot of the archived version of the webpage, which was recorded on Wayback Machine:

Archived version of RNC page touting Trump's Taliban deal
An archived version of a Republican National Committee webpage that touted former President Donald Trump's peace deal with the Taliban.

And here's what it looked like as of Monday morning:

GOP Trump Taliban 404
Screenshot taken on August 16, 2021, showing an error message on a page that previously praised Trump's withdrawal deal with the Taliban.

The apparent removal of the page was first highlighted by the Washington Post reporter Dave Weigel. The RNC did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

The page had praised Trump's attempts to end the US' two-decade military involvement in Afghanistan, describing how he "continued to take the lead in peace talks as he signed a historic peace agreement with the Taliban in Afghanistan, which would end America's longest war."

It was referring to a February 2020 conditional peace deal between Trump and the Taliban, which committed the US to cutting the number of troops in Afghanistan if the Taliban did not provide support to terrorist groups.

The page went on to claim that Trump's rival, now-President Joe Biden, had a "history of pushing for endless wars" and listed times he had called for more troops to be deployed in Afghanistan.

Biden had remained committed to withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan while in office, pledging earlier this year to complete the pullout by September 11 despite the Taliban's rapidly gathering gaining strength and seizing back swaths of territory from embattled Afghan security forces.

Observers have drawn parallels between the US' withdrawal from Afghanistan with its shambolic retreat from Saigon in 1975 after its defeat in the Vietnam War.

Trump had made his pledge to end America's so-called "forever wars" in the Middle East and Central Asia one of the centerpieces of his reelection campaign last year. Biden had long opposed US involvement in Afghanistan, though on the campaign trail he signaled that he was considering keeping a small US military presence in the country, a decision he later reversed.

But as the Taliban routed the Afghan army and swept back into power just weeks after the US withdrew most of its forces on July 8, both Trump and Biden have been seeking to blame each other for the crisis.

Trump has called on Biden to resign, claiming that he failed to follow Trump's withdrawal plan. Biden has said that Trump's Taliban deal left him with little option but to fully withdraw US troops.

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MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid likened the US Christian right to the Taliban

MSNBC anchor Joy Reid
  • MSNBC's Joy-Ann Reid was criticized for comparing the US Christian right to the Taliban.
  • "A true cautionary tale for the US," tweeted Reid amid reports of the Taliban denying women access to education.
  • Conservative hosts have also made hyperbolic claims about liberals amid deepening partisan divides in the US.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

MSNBC host Joy-Ann Reid on Saturday drew criticism after comparing the US religious right to the Islamic militants of the Taliban.

The host of The Reidout was commenting on reports of the Taliban denying women and girls access to universities and schools after seizing control of the Afghan city of Herat.

"This is the real-life Handmaid's Tale. A true cautionary tale for the US, which has our own far religious right dreaming of a theocracy that would impose a particular brand of Christianity, drive women from the workforce and solely into childbirth, and control all politics," tweeted Reid.

Conservatives were quick to push back against the comparison as hyperbolic.

"THIS is what Joy Reid thinks of conservatives and Republicans. We are JUST LIKE the Taliban. I've said it before and I'll say it again. I don't believe the press is the enemy of the people, but the far too many in the press (including Joy) think we're enemies of the people,"tweeted Curtis Houck, editor of Newsbusters, a site that aims to expose alleged liberal bias in the media.

Republican strategist Matt Whitlock pointed out that Reid had several times in the past compared US conservatives to the repressive religious zealots in Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel The Handmaid's Tale, which has been made into an acclaimed drama series.

Conservative hosts have also made claims about liberals widely denounced as misleading, with Fox News' Tucker Carlson frequently making hyperbolic claims about plots by liberals to erode America from within.

But it's not just Reid who has argued that there are growing anti-democratic views among sections of the Christian right. Some evangelicals formed part of the core of former President Donald Trump's support and gave credence to his bogus election fraud claims and the GOP push for voting restrictions.

Multiple polls have shown a widening partisan divide in the US on issues including gun rights, abortion, and the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Helicopters are evacuating staff from the US embassy in Kabul as the Taliban enter the Afghan capital ‘from all sides’

Us embassy Kabul evacuation
A U.S. Chinook helicopter flies near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. Helicopters are landing at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul as diplomatic vehicles leave the compound amid the Taliban advanced on the Afghan capital.
  • US embassy officials are being evacuated to safety.
  • Smoke could be seen rising from the roof of the building as officials destroyed sensitive documents.
  • Locals are lining up outside banks, visa offices, and foreign embassies as fear grips the city.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

The US has begun evacuating diplomats and staff from its embassy in Kabul as Taliban militants stormed the Afghan capital early Sunday.

"We have a small batch of people leaving now as we speak. A majority of the staff are ready to leave," a US official told Reuters."The embassy continues to function."

Helicopters were photographed leaving the embassy compound. Two US military officials told the Associated Press that smoke could be seen rising from the roof of the building as officials destroyed sensitive documents.

The Biden administration has deployed 5,000 extra troops to help with the evacuation operation, with embassy officials taken to Kabul airport, where they have been seen boarding military planes.

A US official told CNN that the US embassy would continue operating from Kabul airport with limited staff.

Only weeks ago, Biden dismissed the prospect of the Taliban taking back control of the country as highly unlikely. The collapse of Afghan security forces appears to have taken the White House by surprise. The original date for the full withdrawal of US forces in Afghanistan was September 11, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Taliban militants have begun entering the city "from all sides" Reuters reported early Sunday. A Taliban leader in Doha told the agency that fighters had been instructed not to perpetrate violence in the city, and allow all who wanted to flee to leave the city.

In a statement, the Taliban said it had instructed fighters to remain at the city's gates until the transition to a new government takes place.

An Afghan MP in Kabul, Farzana Kochai, told the BBC that there did not appear to be any means of escaping, with flights from the country all filled.

"I don't know, they can't go to anywhere, there's nowhere left. The aircraft may be full and the flights from Kabul today, I checked with some friends who are going there, out of Kabul, like to India or any other neighboring countries," said Kochai.

Pictures on social media show locals lining up outside banks, visa offices, and foreign embassies as fear of the Taliban advance grips the city.

In a message on Twitter, the office of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said the situation was "under control."

"There have been sporadic shootings in Kabul, Kabul has not been attacked, the country's security and defense forces are working together with international partners to ensure the security of the city, the situation is under control," the post said.

Ghani is under increasing pressure to resign, having effectively lost control of the country.

On Saturday, Taliban militants had seized the key provincial capital of Jalalabad, leaving Kabul the only city still under government control. They rapidly began advancing on the outskirts of Kabul early Sunday.

In a lightning campaign, the militant group has seized back control of swaths of the country since the US evacuated most of its military forces in July. Local Afghan security forces have collapsed in the face of the advance, and thousands of refugees have fled to Kabul to escape the militant group.

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