Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said that he had fled the country on Sunday to “prevent a flood of bloodshed”, as the Taliban entered the capital, capping a lightning offensive across the country.
Taliban have now entered the capital. Three senior Taliban sources told AFP that they had taken control of the presidential palace and were holding a meeting on security in the capital.
Ghani said he believed “countless patriots would be martyred and the city of Kabul would be destroyed” if he had stayed behind.
“The Taliban have won […] and are now responsible for the honour, property and self-preservation of their countrymen,” he said in a statement posted to Facebook.
“They are now facing a new historical test. Either they will preserve the name and honour of Afghanistan or they will give priority to other places and networks,” he added.
He did not say where he had travelled to, but leading Afghan media group Tolo news suggested he had gone to Tajikistan.
Abdullah Abdullah, who heads the peace process, had earlier accused Ghani of “leaving the people to this situation”.
Afghanistan’s acting defense minister, Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, didn’t hold back his criticism of the fleeing president.
Afghan Acting Defense Minister on President Ghani’s and senior officials’ departure from the country:
“They tied our hands behind our backs and sold the homeland, damn the rich man and his gang.”
— Victor Blackwell CNN (@VictorBlackwell) August 15, 2021
“They tied our hands from behind and sold the country,” he wrote on Twitter, according to the Associated Press. “Curse Ghani and his gang.”
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk