Two Afghan officials, one from former President Hamid Karzai’s office and another an aide on the Afghan security council, said President Ashraf Ghani had left the country on Sunday amid the Taliban advance into Kabul, according to Associates Press.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to brief journalists.
Ghani left along with his National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib and a second close associate. It wasn’t immediately clear where they went.
Meanwhile, Hundreds of Kabul residents rushed to the New Kabul Bank to withdraw money from their accounts, as Taliban fighters entered the city on Sunday demanding the unconditional surrender of the central government.
Afghans and foreigners alike raced for the exit, signaling the end of a 20-year Western experiment aimed at remaking Afghanistan.
The beleaguered Afghan government, meanwhile, had hoped for an interim administration, but increasingly had few cards to play.
Helicopters buzzed overhead to evacuate personnel from the U.S. Embassy, while smoke rose near the compound as staff destroyed important documents. Several other Western missions also prepared to pull their people out.
In a stunning rout, the Taliban seized nearly all of Afghanistan in just over a week, despite the billions of dollars spent by the U.S. and NATO over nearly two decades to build up Afghan security forces.
Just days earlier, an American military assessment estimated it would be a month before the capital would come under insurgent pressure.
Instead, the Taliban swiftly defeated, co-opted or sent Afghan security forces fleeing from wide swaths of the country, even though they had some air support from the U.S. military.