Afghanistan: The difference in Kabul is now staggering. The streets are deserted and people are wearing traditional clothes

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Afghanistan: The difference in Kabul is now staggering. The streets are deserted and people are wearing traditional clothes


A heavily armed guard lifted the huge hotel security boom and we emerged into a Kabul that was suddenly very different.

Our driver stepped forward as a group of bearded men walked past our car.

“Here they are – they are Taliban,“, He mumbled softly.

Image:
A beauty salon worker paints a large photo of a woman on a wall in Kabul. Photo: Kyodo / AP

They looked at us, for a few seconds, froze – the longest gaze I can remember. Then they moved forward, slipping between our two vehicles, and let us pass.

We hadn’t entered a new Kabul I thought, I went back in time, I went back 20 years.

This remarkable day began early in the morning with phone calls -om one of our local producer who said he had unconfirmed information that the order had been given for the Taliban infantry to enter Kabul subtly.

I asked him if he was sure the Taliban was coming. “It’s not confirmed,” he said, “but yes”.

Although we were warned, the first time I realized something was going on, it was an urgent call from my producer telling me to get on the roof.

“There was shooting and people running down the street, so get on the roof now,” she said.

Image:
Taliban operatives spotted crossing Kabul after Islamist capture of Afghan capital

I actually felt a little guilty because I was late for what was to become a day of live reporting and a day you never forget.

Within minutes of arriving on the rooftop, gunships appeared nearby, flying over the presidential palace and government buildings in central Kabul.

We didn’t know what was going on.

The helicopter’s anti-missile systems fired bullets into the air – these flares deflect heat-seeking missiles by burning hotter than a helicopter engine.

The Taliban were in the city and the American pilots knew it.

For hours, they circled overhead, but there was nothing they could do to stop the takeover of the capital.

Occasional gunfire ripped through the air.

Throughout the day, we saw Chinook helicopters transporting U.S. Embassy staff to the international airport – road travel was deemed far too dangerous.

Image:
Afghans have been seen walking through the capital with suitcases

Near the presidential palace, I watched the Taliban from four floors higher up in the very heart of the government of this country.

When I first saw the group on the street below while I was live, I couldn’t tell if they were armed or not, but the white Taliban flag they carried was the gift. .

The tension in Kabul has been at its height for days. The streets, usually full of people and cars, were now deserted.

As we drove trying to figure out what was going on, we passed police and army checkpoints safely.

Once again the Afghan soldiers had melted.

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Sky correspondent Stuart Ramsay spots Taliban procession

I immediately noticed a difference in behavior compared to the previous days. Traffic for one, but much more strikingly, people on the streets were no longer wearing jeans and t-shirts, they had transformed into traditional shalwar kameez clothing, and hardly any women were visible.

The only traffic jam in town was near the airport. All day long, there has been a mad rush to take flights that have been canceled – and military flights to which there is no access.

We passed dozens of people walking with all their things, trying to find a place to stay. They are from Mazar, the latest to arrive in battles across the country.

No one will forget the day the Taliban returned – their 20-year war won.

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