Kabul (AP) – The militant Islamist Taliban have moved towards the gates of the Afghan capital, Kabul. However, according to a statement released Sunday, Islamists have ordered their fighters not to enter Kabul.
Interior Minister Abdul Sattar Mirsakwal spoke of an agreement for a peaceful transition of power. There will be no attack on the city, Mirsakwal said in a video released on Sunday. The safety of the city is guaranteed.
Kabul is the last major city in the country under government control. The Bundeswehr wants to start on Monday to get German citizens and Afghan local personnel out of the country. The US began evacuating embassy personnel and others on Sunday.
Previously, the Taliban had captured the major cities of Jalalabad in the east on Sunday morning (local time) and Mazar-i-Sharif in the north on Saturday evening. Until a few weeks ago there was a large military camp in Mazar-i-Sharif, and since the end of June the German soldiers have been withdrawing from the crisis state. The Bundeswehr recently trained Afghan security forces as part of NATO’s Resolute Support mission. Masar-i-Sharif had been repeatedly attacked by the Islamists for about a week and finally fell almost without a fight.
Has fallen into the hands of the Islamists without a fight
Jalalabad, the provincial capital of Nangarhar, has been conquered by the Islamists without a fight, two provincial councilors and a resident of the German news agency confirmed on Sunday.
Given the rapid advance of the Taliban, the Bundeswehr plans to begin evacuating German civilians and Afghan local staff from Kabul next Monday. Bundeswehr paratroopers fly to Kabul in military transporters. On the same day, according to information from security circles, a so-called crisis support team (KuT) consisting of experts from various ministries arrives in the Afghan capital. In the Uzbek capital Tashkent, a second KuT has to organize a hub to rescue people from the Islamists. It is the largest evacuation operation of the Bundeswehr to date.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told Bild am Sonntag that the most important thing was the rapid evacuation of German diplomats and other workers. “We will not run the risk of our people falling into the hands of the Taliban. We are prepared for all scenarios.” Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said on Saturday that she cannot provide information about operational details of the mission. This line was reaffirmed by the ministry on Sunday.
Germany has closed its embassy in Afghanistan due to the Taliban advance into Kabul and has relocated personnel to the military section of the airport in the Afghan capital. This was announced by Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas (SPD) on Twitter on Sunday. “The employees have now arrived there and are making them suitable for work,” explains Maas.
He had again convened the federal government’s crisis team before noon. It involves “taking immediate measures to secure and leave behind German workers and other people at risk en route from Afghanistan.”
Afghan Interior Minister Mirsakwal on Sunday called on people not to become victims of propaganda. “People don’t have to worry, the city is safe.” Anyone who causes unrest in the city will be treated in accordance with the law.
Defense Minister Bismillah Chan Mohammadi also said in a video speech on Facebook that he, as a representative of the armed forces, guarantees the security of Kabul. People should not panic. President Ashraf Ghani is known to have met with domestic politicians and given them the responsibility to create a delegation that will travel to Doha on Monday to reach an agreement with the Taliban on the Afghanistan issue. Kabul’s security will be maintained until an agreement is reached, he said.
Taliban to negotiate peaceful access to Kabul
The Taliban said on Sunday that the fighters must take a stand at the gates of the city. Since the capital, Kabul, is a large and densely populated city, the Taliban had no intention of entering it by force or war. They prefer to negotiate a peaceful entry into Kabul with the other side.
Chaotic scenes played out in Kabul. There was a shooting in front of a bank, a resident of the city said. Many people tried to withdraw their savings, do the shopping and go home to their families. A soldier from Kabul said his entire unit had taken off their uniforms. Soldiers arriving from a district in Kabul province that had just been captured by the Taliban confirmed that Islamist fighters were in front of the city.
Pakistan closed a key border crossing with its neighbor on Sunday amid the Taliban advance. Home Secretary Sheikh Rashid announced the closure of the Torkham border crossing in northwest Pakistan without giving a date for reopening.