Kabul's streets were deserted on Monday, a day after Taliban insurgents took over the Afghanistan capital without a fight, but the airport was jammed with hundreds of civilians trying to flee.

Taliban patrols the streets of Kabul on August 16, 2021, after a stunningly swift end to Afghanistan's 20-year war, as thousands of people mobbed the city's airport trying to flee the group's feared hardline rule.
Taliban patrols the streets of Kabul on August 16, 2021, after a stunningly swift end to Afghanistan's 20-year war, as thousands of people mobbed the city's airport trying to flee the group's feared hardline rule. (Zakeria HASHIMI / AFP)

As the Taliban insurgents declared Afghanistan's war over after taking the capital Kabul over without a fight, thousands of civilians have tried to flee the country, jamming the airport as they made a rush with their families and luggage.

Video posted on social media showed hundreds of people scampering with their luggage toward the safety of the airport terminal with the sound of gunfire breaking out early on Monday. At least five people were reported dead in the chaos and heartbreaking videos circulating on social media of two people falling of a plane's wheels during take-off.

President Ashraf Ghani fled on Sunday as the insurgents encircled Kabul, with the Taliban sealing a nationwide military victory that saw all cities fall to them in just 10 days. 

In a video posted to social media, Taliban co-founder Abdul Ghani Baradar also announced his movement's victory.

Taliban spokesperson Mohammad Naeem said in interviews with Al Jazeera TV on Sunday the Taliban did not want to live in isolation and the type of rule and the form of the regime would be clear soon.

Afghan government forces collapsed swiftly post May, without the support of the US military, which invaded in 2001 after the September 11 attacks and toppled the Taliban for its support of Al Qaeda. 

The United States ultimately failed to build a democratic government that was either capable of withstanding the Taliban or included the insurgents, despite spending billions of dollars and providing two decades of military support.

READ MORE: 'The Taliban have won': Afghan leader Ghani says he left to avoid bloodshed

Naeem said the Taliban wanted to have peaceful relations and was keen to develop several channels of communication it had already opened with foreign countries.

"We ask all countries and entities to sit with us to settle any issues", he said in the interview.

Taliban insurgents entered Kabul on Sunday and Ghani left Afghanistan saying he wanted to avoid bloodshed, bringing the militants close to taking over the country two decades after they were overthrown by a US-led invasion in 2001.

Ghani's government was left completely isolated after the insurgents overran the anti-Taliban northern stronghold of Mazar-e-Sharif and the eastern city of Jalalabad on Sunday.

Like with most of the other captured cities, the seizure of power came after government forces surrendered or retreated.

Thousands of police and other government security forces suddenly abandoned their posts, uniforms, and even weapons on Sunday night.

After initially ordering fighters not to enter the capital, a Taliban spokesman confirmed they had entered Kabul on Sunday night to "ensure security".

The Taliban regime in the 90s was marked by extreme control of the public sphere, a ban on women's liberties, including their right to work and free movement, and tight control of the media. 

This time, the group is adamant to convince the international community it has changed and will respect women's rights. 

However, as the Taliban swept across Afghanistan over the last two weeks, there were reports the group is going back on a promise allowing women to work, according to interviews with female bank employees forced out of their jobs.

READ MORE: Taliban says it has taken control of Afghan presidential palace

Taliban's said the group does not think foreign forces will repeat "their failed experience in Afghanistan again."

"We move with responsibility in every step and make sure to have peace with everyone... We are ready to deal with the concerns of the international community through dialogue."

'Do we have enough burqas?'

Kabul's streets were deserted early on Monday.

Thousands of people were trying to escape Kabul and the feared hardline brand of rule of the Taliban, with scenes of chaos as crowds gathered at the airport.

At least five people were killed in Kabul airport as hundreds of people tried to forcibly enter planes leaving the Afghan capital, witnesses said.

One witness said he had seen the bodies of five people being taken to a vehicle. Another witness said it was not clear whether the victims were killed by gunshots or in a stampede.

US troops deployed at Kabul's international airport to safeguard the evacuation of troops had earlier fired in the air to deter hundreds of civilians running onto the tarmac to try to board a plane.

"The crowd was out of control," a US official told Reuters by phone. "The firing was only done to defuse the chaos."

The nearby Wazir Akbar Khan embassy district was deserted with almost all diplomats and their families either flown out of the city or at the airport awaiting a flight.

Government offices were also empty, residents said.

There were few guards left at the checkpoints in the usually heavily fortified area – some motorists were getting out of their cars to lift barriers at the checkpoints before driving through.

"It is strange to sit here and see empty streets, no more busy diplomatic convoys, big cars with guns mounted," said Gul Mohammed Hakim, one the city's ubiquitous naan (bread) makers who has a shop in the area.

"I will be here baking bread but will earn very small amounts of money. The security guards who were my friends, they are gone."

He had no customers yet, said, and was still heating his tandoor (clay oven) in anticipation.

"My first concern was to grow my beard and how to grow it fast," Hakim added. "I also checked with my wife if there were enough burqas for her and the girls."

During the Taliban's 1996-2001 rule, men were not permitted to trim their beards and women were required to wear the all-enveloping burqa cloak in public.

In the city's Chicken Street, the scores of shops for Afghan carpets, handicraft and jewellery, as well as small cafes, were closed.

For the tens of thousands who have sought refuge in Kabul in recent weeks from other overrun provinces, the overwhelming mood was one of apprehension and fear.

"I am worried there will be a lot of fighting here," one doctor who arrived with his 35-strong family from Kunduz said, asking not to be named.

"I would rather return home, where I know it has stopped."

READ MORE: Why is the Taliban looking unstoppable in Afghanistan?

Source: TRTWorld and agencies