Kabul (AP) – After their actual takeover in Afghanistan, the militant Islamist Taliban occupied police stations and other government buildings in the capital Kabul on Monday. The residents of the city told the German news agency this on Monday.
Armed fighters also drove through the city in army and police cars, as well as other government vehicles. At the same time, they set up their own checkpoints in some streets, as residents further reported.
The health ministry said in a statement Monday that incumbent health minister Wahid Majroh had met with the Taliban’s health commission. Accordingly, both sides thanked the health services in the area controlled by the other side. The Taliban-appointed health minister has called on all health workers — men and women — to resume their duties across the country.
Karzai spokesperson: Talking to Taliban
Talks are currently underway between politicians and representatives of the Islamists. A spokesman for former President Hamid Karzai of the German news agency announced this on Monday. In a first step, it was emphasized that the life and property of the population and public infrastructure must be protected, the spokesman said. There was initially no comment from the Taliban.
After President Ashraf Ghani escaped on Sunday, a coordination council for a peaceful transfer of power was formed, according to Karzai. It includes the chairman of the National Council for Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, the former warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatjar and Karzai himself.
In New York, the UN Security Council is dealing with the explosive situation in the crisis state. At the request of Estonia and Norway, the panel will hold a special session in New York today.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed deep concern and called on Islamist insurgents and all other parties to the conflict to “show extreme restraint”. The United Nations remains committed to contributing to a peaceful resolution of the conflict and to promoting the human rights of all Afghans, especially women and girls. It is also important to provide life-saving humanitarian aid and essential support to civilians in need, he said.
Huge territorial gains
Since US and NATO forces began withdrawing from Afghanistan in May, the militant Islamist Taliban have made huge territorial gains. Over the weekend they conquered other major cities and on Sunday evening they gradually moved to the metropolis of Kabul, where they occupied, among other things, the presidential palace.
According to media reports, the US plans to send about 1,000 more soldiers to Afghanistan in order to quickly conquer the Taliban. This would increase the number of US military personnel in or en route to Kabul to about 6,000. Its main task is to secure the international airport, from which employees from, for example, various embassies are flown.
The insurgents want to create an “Islamic emirate of Afghanistan,” just as they did before US troops entered in 2001. At the time, they enforced their concept of a “state of God” with draconian penalties: women and girls were systematically oppressed, artists and media censored, human rights violations were the order of the day.
Evacuation of the German Embassy
Given the dangerous situation, the federal government started evacuating the staff of the German embassy under great pressure. The embassy in Kabul was initially closed and the employees there were taken to the military section of the airport. The US also began to evacuate their embassy.
Ghani wrote on Facebook to justify his escape, otherwise countless compatriots would have been killed and the city of Kabul destroyed. “I decided to go to avoid this bloodshed.” The Taliban had won their power by force of arms and were now responsible for protecting the lives, property and honor of the civilians.
Ghani’s departure is criticized
The chairman of the National Council for Reconciliation, Abdullah Abdullah, expressed his outrage. He said in a video message that God holds Ghani responsible. The people will also condemn him. Abdullah gave no information about where Ghani left. Local media reported that he flew to Tajikistan.
Chaotic scenes in Kabul
Nevertheless, dramatic scenes unfolded at the Kabul airport. Hundreds of people have been driving to the airport to catch flights since Sunday, as evidenced by videos and photos shared on social media. People climbed turntable ladders to get on a plane. Even Afghans who didn’t even have a passport would try their luck, Kabul residents said.
On Sunday, there were also the first unconfirmed reports that people had died at the airport. Before that, there had been reports of US soldiers guarding the airport firing warning shots.
On Monday, rumors circulated in Kabul that anyone who reached the airport would be evacuated, a resident of the city said. However, there is no proof that these rumors are true. The German embassy even warned on Twitter not to drive to the airport without being asked. This can be dangerous.
Meanwhile, 25 EU countries and more than 40 other states are pushing for borders and possibilities to leave Afghanistan open. “Afghans and international citizens who want to leave the country should be able to do so; Roads, airports and border crossings must remain open,” said a statement released Monday morning by EU representative Josep Borrell, who is also said to have coordinated with Germany. It also states that those in positions of power and authority in Afghanistan are responsible for protecting life and accountable. In addition, they should immediately restore security and civil order.