Taliban insurgents entered Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, on Sunday as they awaits a peaceful transition of power in the next few days. Taliban is poised to run Afghanistan again after 20 years when they were ousted by U.S.-led forces following the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
“Taliban fighters are to be on standby on all entrances of Kabul until a peaceful and satisfactory transfer of power is agreed,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.
“We assure the people, particularly in the city of Kabul,that their properties, their lives are safe,” the spokesman Suhail Shaheen said in an interview with the BBC.
However, despite their assurance, many of Kabul’s streets were choked by cars and people either trying to rush home or reach the airport.
“Our leadership had instructed our forces to remain at the gates of Kabul, not to enter the city”, adding that Taliban would protect the rights of women, as well as freedoms for media workers and diplomats.
Taliban was notorious during their past rule for keeping girls out of school and their hardline practice of Islamic law, including punishments of amputation, stoning and hanging, however, this time around Taliban appear to be trying to project a more modern face.
Earlier on Sunday, the insurgents captured the eastern city of Jalalabad without a fight, giving them control of one of the main highways into landlocked Afghanistan. Taliban have also seized the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif late on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the government’s acting interior minister, Abdul Sattar Mirzakawal said that there won’t be an attack on the city, adding there will be a peaceful handover.
There was no immediate word on the situation from President Ashraf Ghani, however, a senior Afghan Interior Ministry official said Ghani had left for Tajikistan.
After U.S.-led forces withdrew most of their remaining troops in the last month, the Taliban campaign accelerated as the Afghan military’s defences appeared to collapse.