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Taliban seize Kabul, President Ashraf Ghani flees Afghanistan

Even as Taliban fighters have taken control of Afghanistan, the US, UK and Canadian forces have arrived and are evacuating their mission staff from Afghan Capital Kabul. Meanwhile, an Air India flight with 129 passengers being evacuated from Kabul landed In Delhi at 8 pm. The flight had taken off from Kabul at 6.06 pm.

NEW DELHI, Aug 15: Taliban forces entered Kabul, Afghanistan's Capital city, on Sunday afternoon and are said to be in firm control of the country as they had already seized most of the provinces.

Losing the battle, President Ashraf Ghani has left the country and taken refuge in Tajikistan, some unconfirmed reports said. It was also reported that Tajikistan refused permission for his copter to land. There were sporadic firing at several places in Kabul as the rebel fighters entered the city in the afternoon.

Meanwhile, an Air India flight with 129 passengers, being evacuated from Kabul, landed In Delhi at 8 pm. The flight had taken off from Kabul at 6.06 pm.

The Taliban were ousted from power 20 years ago by American forces after the terrorist attack on US installations like the Trade Tower in New York and the Pentagon building in Washington by Osama bin-Laden on September 11, 2001. The Islamic fundamentalist group had ruled Afghanistan from 1996 till 2001.

Meanwhile, US, UK and Canadian troops had arrived in the city and were evacuating their diplomatic personnel from their embassies. Indian diplomatic staff are also being evacuated.

Taliban had captured Kandahar, Herat, Lashkar Gah in south, Qala-e-Naw in the northwest, and Firuz Koh, capital of central Ghor province, by Saturday. The Afghan forces were in a disarray and unable to put up any resistance. The militants had control of 18 of Afghanistan's 34 provincial Capitals since August 6. Just Kabul was remaining to be captured.

The provinces seized by the Taliban till Saturday are:- Zaranj (August 6), Sheberghan (August 7), Sar-e-Pul (August 8), Kunduz (August 8), Taluqan (August 8), Aybak (August 9), Farah (August 10), Pul-e-Khumri (August 10), Faizabad (August 11), Ghazni (August 12), Herat (August 12), Kandahar (August 12), Lashkar Gah (August 13), Qala-e Naw (August 13), Feruz Koh (August 13), Pul-e Alam (August 13), Terakot (August 13), Qalat (August 13).

The NATO and the United Nations had held consultations and at Doha the US, Russia, China, India and others had been holding discussions to find a peaceful solution but without success.

Amputation, stoning, hanging and whipping are the methods of punishment under Taliban rule for those who violate the Islamist tenets of fundamentalism that include confining women to homes.

Earlier, Taliban fighters entered a bank in Kandahar and forced some eight women to leave.

US President Joe Biden has faced domestic criticism for pulling out the troops. He was in fact implementing a plan initiated by his Republican predecessor Donald Trump to end the US military mission in Afghanistan. "An endless American presence in the middle of another country's civil conflict was not acceptable to me," Biden said on Saturday.

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