Taliban announces 'amnesty,' urges women to join government


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Kabul: The Taliban announced Tuesday an “amnesty” across Afghanistan and urged women to join its government, trying to calm nerves across a nervous capital city that only the day before saw chaos at its airport as people tried to flee their rule.

The comments by Enamullah Samangani, a member of the Taliban's cultural commission, represent the first comments on governance from a federal level across the country after their blitz across the country.

While there were no major reports of abuses or fighting in Kabul, many residents have stayed home and remain fearful after the insurgents’ takeover saw prisons emptied and armories looted. Older generations remember their ultraconservative Islamic views, which included stonings, amputations and public executions during their rule before the U.S-led invasion that followed the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

“The Islamic Emirate doesn't want women to be victims” Samangani said, using the militants' term for Afghanistan. “They should be in government structure according to Shariah law.”

He added: “The structure of government is not fully clear, but based on experience, there should be a fully Islamic leadership and all sides should join.”

Meanwhile Tuesday, Stefano Pontecorvo, NATO's senior civilian representative to Afghanistan, posted video online showing the runway empty with American troops on the tarmac. What appeared to be a military cargo plane could be seen in the distance from behind a chain-link fence in the footage.

The runway "is open,” he wrote on Twitter. “I see airplanes landing and taking off.”

Overnight, flight-tracking data showed a U.S. Marine Corps KC-130J Hercules plane at the airport and later taking off for Qatar, home to Al-Udeid Air Base and the U.S. military Central Command's forward headquarters. There were no other immediate flights seen in Afghan airspace, which has been taken over by the American military as commercial flights have been halted in the country.

Across Afghanistan, the International Committee of the Red Cross said thousands had been wounded in the fighting. Security forces and politicians handed over their provinces and bases without a fight, likely believing the two-decade Western experiment to remake Afghanistan would not survive the resurgent Taliban. The last American troops had planned to withdraw at the end of the month.