Afghanistan in pictures: Taliban forces sweep to control as locals fear what future holds

People walk through a security barrier while they enter in Pakistan from Afghanistan through a border crossing point. Credit: AP

The takeover of Kabul - Afghanistan's capital city - by the Taliban was swift after Western security forces left the country.

The Taliban initially took control of the city on Sunday, and the militant group, known for their terror, have been establishing themselves on Monday.

The president of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani, fled the country as the Taliban advanced into Kabul, marking the end of a Western-backed government.

Taliban fighters take control of Afghan presidential palace after the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, in Kabul, Afghanistan Credit: AP

There was also chaos at Kabul's airport on Monday after thousands attempted to flee the country.

Hundreds run alongside a US Air Force C-17 transport plane, some climbing on the plane, as it moves down a runway. Credit: AP

Senior US military officials say the chaos at Kabul's airport on Monday morning left seven people dead, including some who fell from a departing US military transport jet.

Afghans desperately scramble to climb onto a plane in Kabul on Monday

This satellite photo shows swarms of people on the tarmac at Kabul International Airport. Credit: Maxar Technologies via AP

Government offices, shops and schools are still shuttered in areas recently captured by the Taliban, with many residents lying low.

But already there are indications of a return to the harsh version of Islamic rule Afghans lived under from 1996 until 2001, when the US drove the Taliban from power after the 9/11 attacks.

Zarmina Kakar, a women's rights activist, in tears as Taliban forces neared Kabul before the weekend. Credit: AP

Many fear the Taliban will roll back two decades of gains by women and ethnic minorities while restricting the work of journalists and NGO workers.

An entire generation of Afghans was raised on hopes of building a modern, democratic state — dreams that seem to have melted away before the Taliban’s relentless advance.

Taliban fighters stand guard in front of the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. Credit: AP

Fearful that the Taliban could reimpose the kind of brutal rule that all but eliminated women’s rights, Afghans rushed to leave the country in recent days, lining up at cash machines to withdraw their life savings.

Afghans wait in long lines for hours to try to withdraw money in front of Kabul Bank. Credit: AP

The desperately poor — who had left homes in the countryside for the presumed safety of the capital — remained in parks and open spaces throughout the city.

Taliban fighters stand guard in front of the Hamid Karzai International Airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Monday Credit: AP
Passengers trying to fly out of Kabul International Airport before the weekend. Credit: AP

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.

Kabul was the last in a series of cities to fall to Taliban forces.

A Taliban fighter stand guard over surrendered Afghan security members forces in the city of Ghazni. Credit: AP

Prior to Kabul, the fall of Kandahar, the country's second largest city, was seen as the insurgent group's greatest victory in years and many feared it would be a precursor to an assault on the capital.

But not many in power appeared to expect Kandahar would be followed so quickly by Kabul.

Afghan military and officials leave Kandahar city during fighting between the Taliban and Afghan security personnel. Credit: AP
Taliban fighters and Afghans gather around the body of a member of the security forces who was killed, inside the city of Farah. Credit: AP