Afghanistan’s president flees the country as Taliban moves to take Kabul

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Afghanistan’s president flees the country as Taliban moves to take Kabul
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Afghanistan’s president flees the country as Taliban moves to take Kabul
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Afghanistan’s embattled president left the country Sunday, joining his fellow citizens and foreigners in a stampede fleeing the advancing Taliban and signaling the end of a 20-year Western experiment aimed at remaking Afghanistan.

The Taliban, who for hours had been on the outskirts of Kabul, announced soon after they would move further into a city gripped by panic where helicopters raced overhead throughout the day to evacuate personnel from the U.S. Embassy. Smoke rose near the compound as staff destroyed important documents. Several other Western missions also prepared to pull their people out.

President Ashraf Ghani said in a statement that he left Afghanistan to spare the country any bloodshed.

“[The] Taliban have won the judgment of sword and guns and now they are responsible for protecting the countrymen’s honor, wealth and self-esteem,” Ghani wrote on Facebook, according to an automated translation.

Civilians fearing that the Taliban could reimpose the kind of brutal rule that all but eliminated women’s rights rushed to leave the country as well, lining up at cash machines to withdraw their life savings. The desperately poor — who had left homes in the countryside for the presumed safety of the capital — remained in their thousands in parks and open spaces throughout the city.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken rejected comparisons to the U.S. pullout from Vietnam, as many watched in disbelief at the sight of helicopters landing in the embassy compound. The U.S. ambassador in Kabul left the compound and decamped to the capital’s airport on Sunday.

The U.S. embassy urged American citizens in the country to shelter in place, saying in an alert that the “security situation in Kabul is changing quickly including at the airport.”

Earlier, the Taliban also took control of Bagram air base, a senior U.S. official told CBS News, and prisoners at the base were being released. The prison at the former U.S. stronghold was home to 5,000 prisoners, including both Taliban and Islamic State group fighters.

You can read the rest of the AP’s article at CBSnews.com

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