Japan to evacuate embassy as Taliban reach Afghan capital

Japan was set to evacuate all personnel from its embassy in Kabul, Japanese government sources said Sunday, as Taliban fighters reportedly entered Afghanistan’s capital calling for a peaceful transfer of power.

A dozen Japanese staff work at the embassy. The United States evacuated its embassy staff by helicopter amid the political crisis.

“The situation is developing very quickly,” one of the sources said. “We are gathering information in cooperation with the United States and European countries.”

Taliban insurgents entered Kabul on Sunday and said they expected to take power within days, promising to moderate their earlier hard-line Islamist rule even as foreign diplomats and many locals tried to leave.

American diplomats were evacuated from their embassy by chopper after a lightning advance by the militants, who were poised to run Afghanistan again 20 years after they were toppled by U.S.-led forces following the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

Taliban fighters were reaching the capital “from all sides,” a senior Afghan interior ministry official said.

However, there were no reports of fighting.

The group was in talks with the Western-backed government for a peaceful surrender, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.

“Taliban fighters are to be on standby on all entrances of Kabul until a peaceful and satisfactory transfer of power is agreed,” he said in a statement.

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