KABUL: Ashraf Ghani fled Afghanistan on Sunday, a top official said, effectively ceding power to the Taliban as they reached the capital Kabul to seal a nationwide military victory in just 10 days.
His exit comes hours after the Taliban ordered their fighters to wait on the outskirts of the capital following an astonishing rout of government forces.
“The former Afghan President has left the nation, leaving the people to this situation,” Abdullah Abdullah, who heads the peace process, said in a video on his Facebook page.
“God hold him accountable, and the people will have their judgement.”
The news first came to the fore when Afghan news outlet TOLO News cited sources as saying Ghani has left Afghanistan.
It is not yet clear whether he has resigned as president.
Meanwhile, a senior Afghan Interior Ministry official said Ghani has left the capital Kabul for Tajikistan.
Asked for comment, the president’s office said it “cannot say anything about Ashraf Ghani’s movement for security reasons”.
A representative of the Taliban, which entered the capital Kabul earlier on Sunday, said the group was checking on Ghani’s whereabouts.
A Taliban spokesman said that Taliban fighters have entered Kabul in response to a “law and order issue”, the Guardian reported.
The group ordered its fighters earlier Sunday not to enter the capital, saying the remnants of the government’s forces were responsible for security.
But later, a spokesman tweeted that Taliban forces should enter areas deserted by Afghan forces in order to maintain law and order.
The Taliban have issued a statement under the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” banner saying the group has now been permitted to enter Kabul.
The statement claimed that Afghan police and other relevant institutions abandoned their duties and that to prevent “theft, looting and crime”, the group’s forces have been allowed to enter the capital.
“The Taliban will secure areas abandoned by Afghan forces in Kabul,” said the statement.
It sought to assure citizens that the forces will neither enter their homes, nor “bother them”.
Journalists reporting from on the ground, including former Wall Street Journal reporter Habib Khan, confirmed that the Taliban will enter the city to secure areas abandoned by the government in order to “control the chaos”.