The Taliban has declared the war in Afghanistan over after its fighters swept into the capital, Kabul, and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.
The streets of Kabul were quiet on Monday, but there were scenes of chaos and panic at the international airport as hundreds of Afghans desperate to leave the country flooded the tarmac. The United States and other Western nations were also scrambling to evacuate their diplomats and citizens.
A spokesman for Taliban’s political office told Al Jazeera the group did not want to live in isolation and said the type and form of the new government in Afghanistan would be made clear soon.
Mohammad Naeem also called for peaceful international relations.
“Thanks to God, the war is over in the country,” he said.
“We have reached what we were seeking, which is the freedom of our country and the independence of our people,” he added. “We will not allow anyone to use our lands to target anyone, and we do not want to harm others.”
The United Nations Security Council will discuss the situation in Afghanistan later on Monday.
Taliban officials say they had received no reports of any clashes from across the country a day after the armed group seized the capital, Kabul, and the US-backed government collapsed.
“The situation is peaceful, as per our reports,” one of the senior members of the Taliban tells Reuters news agency. He declines to be identified.
Hundreds of Afghans invade the airport’s runways in the dark, pulling luggage and jostling for a place on one of the last commercial flights to leave before US forces take over air traffic control.“This is our airport but we are seeing diplomats being evacuated while we wait in complete uncertainty,” Rakhshanda Jilali, a human rights activist who was trying to get to Pakistan, tells Reuters news agency in a message from the airport.
New Zealand’s government said it was sending a C-130 Hercules military transport plane to Afghanistan to help with the evacuation of 53 of its citizens and dozens of Afghans and their immediate families who helped New Zealand troops when they were stationed there.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said they had so far identified 37 Afghans who had helped, but the number of evacuees would be in the hundreds once dependents and others were included.
Defence officials say they have planned for a month-long mission involving at least 40 military personnel tasked with servicing and protecting the plane. Ardern asked that the Taliban allow people to leave peaceably: “The whole world is watching,” she said.
Saudi Arabia meanwhile said it has completed the evacuation of all its diplomats from Kabul.
US forces fired in the air at Kabul’s airport to prevent hundreds of civilians running onto the tarmac, according to an official and a witness.
“The crowd was out of control,” the US official told the Reuters news agency by phone. “The firing was only done to defuse the chaos.”
A witness confirmed the development to the AFP news agency.
“I feel very scared here,” the witness said. “They are firing lots of shots in the air.”
Large airlines including United Airlines, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic said they were not using Afghanistan’s airspace following the Taliban takeover of Kabul.
A United spokeswoman said the change affects several of the airline’s US-to-India flights. Aljazeera