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Omer Farooq Khan / TNN /
ISLAMABAD: The Taliban announced on Monday that they had captured the Panjshir valley, north of Kabul, ousting the resistance force that had been one of the obstacles in the way of the group announcing its government for Afghanistan.
The announcement came hours after National Resistance Front (NRF) chief Ahmad Massoud said he was ready to hold peace talks, as suggested by religious scholars, if Taliban fighters halted their offensive. Massoud’s post emerged after the Taliban had declared that they had entered Bazarak, the provincial capital.
"Panjshir, which was the last hideout of the escapee enemy, is captured," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told a crowded press conference in Kabul. "This victory has ended the war and paved the way for a peaceful and prosperous life in an independent Afghanistan," Mujahid said, claiming that he was told that former vice-president Amrullah Saleh had escaped to Tajikistan. The Taliban assured the people of Panjshir, who are ethnically distinct from the Pashtun-dominated group, that there wold be no reprisals. "They are our brothers and would work together for a joint purpose and welfare of the country," Mujahid said.
The country is lost. We threw away what little we had done to help it.