Taliban take power in Afghanistan: Interim government to be formed, president goes into exile, reports say

Ashraf Ghani
Ashraf Ghani has left Afghanistan for Tajikistan, according to Reuters.
  • Afghanistan will have a "peaceful transfer of power" to the Taliban, the country's interior minister said.
  • Talks are underway to form an interim government led by the militant group, CNN reported.
  • Ashraf Ghani, the county's president, has fled Afghanistan for Tajikistan, according to Reuters.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Afghanistan will have a "peaceful transfer of power" to a transitional government led by the Taliban, acting Afghan Interior Minister Abdul Sattar Mirzakwal said Sunday.

In a video message, broadcast on local news outlet Tolo TV, Mirzakwal said: "The Afghan people should not worry... There will be no attack on the city and there will be a peaceful transfer of power."

Around the same time on Sunday, CNN reported that the Taliban issued a statement saying it was in talks with "the other side" for a peaceful surrender of the capital and confirmed that the group would refrain from violence.

"No one's head, property, or honor will be harmed and the lives of Kabulis will not be in danger. The Islamic Emirate instructs all its forces to stand at the gates of Kabul and not try to enter the city," a spokesperson told ABC News.

Read more: Read more: Why the US-trained Afghan National Army have been defeated with ease by the Taliban

Reuters reported that President Ashraf Ghani left Afghanistan for Tajikistan early Sunday evening, according to a senior interior ministry official.

Tolo TV also confirmed that Ghani has gone into exile.

A Taliban official reportedly claimed that the group will assume formal administrative control of Kabul, Afghanistan, "within hours," Al Arabiya reported.

Read more: WATCH: Tearful Afghan girl facing grim future under Taliban rule

The Taliban's international media spokesperson, Suhail Shaheen, initially said to Al Jazeera that the group will remain on standby on the outskirts of the city while transition talks take place.

According to NBC's Richard Engel, the Taliban will now enter Kabul to "stop looting."

Shaheen told the BBC that Afghans who are not Taliban would be included in the Islamic government and that claimed that the militants will respect the rights of women.

The previous period of Taliban rule saw women denied access to work, education, and punished for flouting laws with imprisonment, flogging, and even execution.

Shaheen also claimed to The Wall Street Journal's Sune Engel Rasmussen that journalists will be safe under the Taliban.

High-ranking Afghan officials, including some of Ghani's advisors, are at Hamid Karzai International Airport waiting for a flight out, according to a reliable source, CNN''s Kaitlan Collins said on Twitter.

American diplomats are currently being shuttled in helicopters to the airport from the embassy in Kabul, according to reports. The US plans to completely pull all personnel from its embassy over the next three days, CNN said.

International reactions

Pope Francis led the calls for "dialogue" in Afghanistan to avoid bloodshed, Reuters reported. "I join in the unanimous worry about the situation in Afghanistan. I ask you to pray along with me to the God of peace so that the din of weapons ends and that solutions can be found around a table of dialogue," he said to pilgrims in St. Peter's Square.

NATO has said that a political solution in Afghanistan is "more urgent than ever," according to AFP. It is maintaining its diplomatic presence in Kabul and is helping to keep the city's airport open, a NATO official told Reuters.

Nobel Prize laureate Malala has urged "global, regional, and local powers" to advocate for a ceasefire, humanitarian aid, and the protection of refugees and civilians in a tweet to her 1.9 million followers.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has agreed to recall parliament to debate the Taliban's seizure of Afghanistan, according to local media. Downing Street has said that he has convened an emergency COBRA meeting for this afternoon, Sky News reported.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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