KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghanistan’s embattled president has left the country, joining his fellow citizens and foreigners in a stampede fleeing the advancing Taliban.

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The exodus signals the end of a 20-year Western experiment aimed at remaking Afghanistan.

The Taliban announced soon after they would move further into Kabul.

They had been on the outskirts for hours. Kabul is gripped by panic, and helicopters raced overhead to evacuate personnel from the U.S. Embassy.

Smoke rose near the compound as staff destroyed important documents.

Several other Western missions also prepared to pull their people out.

Civilians fearing that the Taliban could reimpose the kind of brutal rule that all but eliminated women’s rights rushed to leave the country as well.

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