Afghanistan’s President, Ashraf Ghani, is said to have fled to Tajikistan after Taliban insurgents stormed the country’s capital, Kabul, on Sunday.
A senior interior ministry official, stated that it “cannot disclose anything regarding Ashraf Ghani’s movement for security concerns.”
The move comes just hours after Taliban fighters entered outskirts of Kabul and demanded the country’s central government’s unconditional surrender.
After Taliban insurgents gained power across the country in less than a week, the city became the final major government stronghold.
In a statement, the Taliban stated that it was in talks with the government and that it would not capture the capital by force. “No one’s life, property, or dignity will be endangered, and the lives of Kabul residents will not be jeopardized,” the rebel group stated.
However, the city, which has a population of about 4 million people, now faces an unknown future in the hours—and years—ahead, as sporadic gunfire was reported around its outskirts.
Reports say Taliban officials are currently investigating Ghani’s location. The Afghan president had resisted stepping down the day before, vowing to “avoid more instability” and calling for the country’s military to be “remobilized,” according to The New York Times.
In the midst of the commotion, the United States military began evacuating American diplomatic and civilian personnel from its embassy on Thursday. On Friday, staff were instructed to destroy all sensitive materials, and a core group of American diplomats who had planned to remain inside the embassy were relocated to a building at the international airport.