Kabul, Afghanistan: The Taliban finally entered the Afghan capital of Kabul Sunday as per reports on 1:00 PM IST, inching further closer to a complete military takeover of Afghanistan after capturing more major cities, leaving only the isolated capital Kabul for them to conquer.
While thousands of Afghan soldiers thronged the governor’s office in the wester city of Herat looking for the Taliban — not to battle them but to seek amnesty.
As per reports, the Taliban fighters were ordered to wait at the gates of Kabul and not enter the city, an insurgent spokesman said, after the complete collapse of the country’s security forces.
“The Islamic Emirate instructs all its forces to stand at the gates of Kabul, not to try to enter the city,” a spokesman for the Taliban tweeted, although some residents reported insurgents had peacefully entered some outer suburbs.
The report comes as the world watched in awe an exceptionally swift military takeover by the Taliban of the war-ridden nation despite government forces backed by NATO allies were present in heavy numbers.
On Sunday, the rebels grabbed control of the vital eastern city of Jalalabad, only hours after conquering the northern anti-Taliban bastion of Mazar-i-Sharif, continuing an incredible 10-day rout of government forces and warlord militias.
“Don’t panic! Kabul is safe!” tweeted Matin Bek, President Ashraf Ghani’s chief of staff, which now appears to fall short to console panic-stricken residents of the Afghan capital that is home to millions.
The Taliban, a hardline jihadist group is known for their radical tactic, including a chronic violation of human rights and cruelty towards women.
UN Chief warned of crude violation of human rights already in place as the Taliban gained control through much of Afghanistan, following US withdrawal.
The BBC reported unmarried girls in several Taliban-captured cities were being asked to be handed over to the fighters for marriage.
Reports also says civilian resistance to the Taliban atrocities in different regions was met with violent rebukes from the Islamic group.
Ghani’s government appeared to be left with few options as the Taliban effectively surrounded Kabul — either prepare for a bloody fight for the capital or capitulate.
Afghan soldiers seek Taliban amnesty after fall of Herat
Afghanistan’s third-biggest city fell without a fight on Thursday as government forces retreated and Herat’s famous warlord Ismail Khan was detained by the insurgents.
With fears of violent reprisals growing as the Taliban get closer to a full takeover of the country, Afghan soldiers in Herat — nearly all of them in civilian clothes — gathered Saturday to try and get a letter of amnesty.
Inside the office that once housed the Herat governor, Taliban members sat on couches — some cradling American military rifles — as they jotted down names and reviewed lists spread on a glass-top coffee table.
On stationery with the Taliban letterhead, one wrote amnesty notes — some long-term, some valid for just a few days.
One Afghan soldier at the compound told AFP that his unit was surrounded by the Taliban before the fall of the city.
Now he just wanted security.
“I have come here to get an amnesty letter to go out of the city,” said Ahmed Shahidi.
“Until I find a place where I can stay safe in the future.”
Taliban member Najeebullah Karokhi said around 3,000 people were given amnesty.
“Those who are from other provinces will be provided a three-day temporary amnesty letter so they can get to their home provinces, where they need to get another long-term amnesty letter from our officials,” he said.
In the shaded part of a courtyard on the compound, hundreds sat patiently as a man holding amnesty slips shouted names one by one for them to be collected.
The banal bureaucratic process belied the shocking speed and efficiency of the Taliban’s victories across Afghanistan.
Just weeks ago, a defiant and angry Ismail Khan — who ruled Herat as his fiefdom — had vowed to defend the city with his militia, and called on government forces to show more backbone.
But the city’s defenses seemingly evaporated overnight as troops retreated to a base outside the city and Khan was captured by the Taliban.
The warlord’s spokesman said he had been allowed to return to his residence following talks with the Taliban, but it was unclear exactly what deal had been cut between the two.
“We had to leave the city in order to prevent further destruction,” a senior government security source from Herat told AFP.
The fear of Taliban revenge is not unfounded: the insurgents have imposed brutal punishments on opponents, and anyone who violated their harsh brand of Islamic law when they were in power from 1996 to 2001.
They have recently been accused of committing war crimes, including massacres of civilians and soldiers outside combat.
The insurgents deny committing such atrocities.
With AFP inputs.