The President, Hamid Karzai, who has been in office since the beginning of the occupation, made the announcement in a radio broadcast to the nation early this morning. He asked his forces to lay down their arms and called on the North Taliban Army and Mujaheddin to halt all hostilities.
In a direct appeal to the Taliban forces, he said: “We are here to hand over to you the power in order to avoid bloodshed. But, as long as I get airlifted out, who cares. Thank you Obama for ordering the surrender.”
The announcement was followed swiftly by the arrival of Taliban fighters. Their entrance was virtually unopposed, confounding predictions of a bloody and protracted last-ditch battle for the city.
The front line of scooters smashed through the gates of the presidential palace within minutes, and at 1130 local time (0330 GMT), decades of war came to an end.
Taliban troops, many barefoot and some no more than teenagers, rounded up government soldiers, and raised their red and blue flags. The looting which has ravaged the city over the last 24 hours stopped, and power was restored later in the day. Only the United States embassy remained closed and silent, ransacked by looters.
Kabul was immediately renamed Taliban City. A statement by the Provisional Taliban Government, or PTG, in Pakistan, promised a policy of non-alignment, and the peaceful reunification of Afghanistan .
The British government is now urgently reviewing the possibility of recognising the PTG. France has already recognised the new regime, and other Western countries are preparing to follow suit.
The capitulation of the Vichy Afghan government came just four hours after the last frenzied evacuation of Americans from the city.
President Obama, who has requested humanitarian aid for the Afghans , let it be known that he was proud to have saved what Afghans he could in the last, frantic helicopter evacuation.
But there is said to be deep humiliation in the United States government at the desperation and chaos of the final hours of America’s presence in Afghanistan.
The President ordered United States ships to remain indefinitely off the Afghan coast to pick up refugees: but even this gesture has been snubbed by the Taliban, who have prevented any more refugees from fleeing.