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Afghan president said to flee country with cars and helicopter full of cash

Russia’s embassy in Kabul says Ashraf Ghani couldn’t fit all the money in the aircraft, and left some behind on the tarmac

Illustrative: A helicopter carrying President Ashraf Ghani prepares to land at the Darul Aman Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 2, 2021. (AP/Rahmat Gul)
Illustrative: A helicopter carrying President Ashraf Ghani prepares to land at the Darul Aman Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, August 2, 2021. (AP/Rahmat Gul)

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani tried to flee the country with four cars and a helicopter packed with cash, Russia’s embassy in Kabul claimed on Monday.

As the Taliban closed in on Kabul on Sunday, Ghani flew out of the country. He later posted on Facebook that he had left to avert bloodshed in the capital, without saying where he had gone.

“As for the collapse of the regime, it is most eloquently characterized by the way Ghani fled Afghanistan,” Nikita Ishchenko, spokesman for the Russian embassy in Kabul, said, according to Reuters, citing the RIA news agency.

“Four cars were full of money, they tried to stuff another part of the money into a helicopter, but not all of it fit. And some of the money was left lying on the tarmac,” he said.

Ishchenko later told Reuters that witnesses were the source of his information. But his claims could not be verified, the report said.

In a stunning rout, the Taliban seized nearly all of Afghanistan in just over a week, despite the billions of dollars spent by the US and NATO over nearly 20 years to build up Afghan security forces.

Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a function at the Afghan presidential palace in Kabul on August 4, 2021. (SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP)

The Taliban swept into Afghanistan’s capital Sunday after the government collapsed and the embattled president joined an exodus of his fellow citizens and foreigners.

Russia’s special representative on Afghanistan said it was unclear if the fleeing government would leave any money behind, Reuters reported.

“I hope the government that has fled did not take all the money from the state budget. It will be the bedrock of the budget if something is left,” Zamir Kabulov told the Russian Ekho Moskvy radio station, according to the report.

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