The Taliban have said they have taken control of Panjshir province north of Kabul, the last holdout of anti-Taliban forces in the country, Associated Press reported.
Thousands of Taliban fighters overran eight districts of Panjshir overnight, according to witnesses from the area who spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for their safety.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement on Monday, saying Panjshir was now under the control of Taliban fighters.
In his statement, Mujahid sought to assure residents of Panjshir that they would be safe — even as scores of families reportedly fled into the mountains ahead of the Taliban’s arrival.
“We give full confidence to the honourable people of Panjshir that they will not be subjected to any discrimination, that all are our brothers, and that we will serve a country and a common goal,” Mujahid said in his statement.
“We tried our best to solve the problem through negotiations, and they rejected talks and then we had to send our forces to fight,” Mujahid later told a press conference in Kabul.
“There is no need for any more fighting,” Mujahid said at the press conference. “All Panjshir people and those who live in Panjshir are our brothers and they are part of our country.”
The anti-Taliban forces had been led by the former vice president, Amrullah Saleh, and also the son of the iconic anti-Taliban fighter Ahmad Shah Massoud who was killed just days before the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States.