President Ashraf Ghani has left Afghanistan for Tajikistan as Taliban closes in on Kabul, according to the country’s top peace negotiator Abdullah Abdullah.
Ghani’s departure comes amid negotiations for a peaceful transfer of power after Taliban fighters encircled Kabul after capturing 26 of the country’s 34 provincial capitals in less than two weeks.
“The former Afghan president has left the nation,” Abdullah, the head of the High Council for National Reconciliation, said in a video on his Facebook page.
Meanwhile, a Taliban official told Reuters they were checking reports about Ghani’s departure from the country.
On Sunday, Taliban troops surrounded Afghanistan’s seat of power, promising it had instructed its fighters to refrain from violence and offer safe passage to anyone wishing to leave Kabul.
Here are all the latest updates:
3 mins ago (14:54 GMT)
Taliban fighters to enter Kabul ‘to prevent looting’: Spokesman
The Taliban said they will enter the capital Kabul to prevent looting after local police deserted their posts, a spokesman for the armed group said late on Sunday.
The statement by Zabihullah Mujahid came shortly after a top Afghan peace envoy said President Ashraf Ghani had left the country.
20 mins ago (14:38 GMT)
Russia does not yet “recognise” Taliban as Afghanistan’s lawful authority
Moscow does not yet recognise the Taliban as Afghanistan’s new lawful authority, RIA state news agency quoted the Russian foreign ministry as saying on Sunday.
The ministry also told RIA that Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani was unlikely to head to Russia after leaving his country.
1 hour ago (13:30 GMT)
Turkey urges efforts to stem Afghan migrant wave
Turkey’s president said his country will work for stability in Afghanistan along with Pakistan, in order to stem a growing migration wave amid the Taliban’s countrywide offensive.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Afghans were increasingly attempting to migrate to Turkey via Iran, urging an international effort to bring stability to the country and prevent mass migration.
Erdogan was speaking at a naval ceremony with Pakistan’s president. He said Pakistan had a “vital task” to bring peace and stability to Afghanistan, where clashes have intensified. Turkish-Pakistani cooperation would be needed for this, and Turkey would use all possibilities to do so, Erdogan added.
2 hours ago (13:14 GMT)
Iran sets up camps along Afghanistan border as Taliban advance
Iran said it has prepared accommodation in three provinces bordering Afghanistan to provide temporary refuge to Afghans fleeing the conflict in their country.
“Camps have been built in border areas in three provinces,” Interior Ministry official Hossein Qasemi told Iran’s state news agency IRNA.
But he added that: “We expect those Afghan refugees to return home when the situation improves in Afghanistan.”
Afghanistan’s oil-rich western neighbour Iran has for years been a destination for Afghans seeking work or fleeing war. But the state of Iran’s economy, long stifled by US sanctions, has persuaded Tehran to encourage many of the more than two million Afghan refugees in the country to return home.
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