One of Afghanistan's first female mayors said Sunday that she is waiting for the Taliban to come and kill her as the Islamic militants reached the capital, Kabul.
"I'm sitting here waiting for them to come. There is no one to help me or my family. I'm just sitting with them and my husband. And they will come for people like me and kill me," Zarifa Ghafari, the mayor of Maidan Shar, told the British newspaper i. "I can't leave my family. And anyway, where would I go?"
Ghafari, 27, is Afghanistan's youngest mayor and the first women to hold the office in Maidan Shar in Wardak province.
The newspaper reported that only three weeks ago, Ghafari said there was hope for her country.
"Younger people are aware of what's happening. They have social media. They communicate. I think they will continue fighting for progress and our rights. I think there is a future for this country," Ghafari said.
Ghafari was appointed in the summer of 2018 by President Ashraf Ghani, The New York Times reported. Although there have been female governors and mayors before in Afghanistan, The Times reported, she is one of the few women ever to have held a government job in the very conservative city of Maidan Shar.
As the Taliban became resurgent, Ghafari was given a job in the relative safety of the Defense Ministry in Kabul, with responsibility for the welfare of soldiers and civilians injured in terrorist attacks, i reported.
Ghani fled the country Sunday when the Taliban began inching closer to taking complete control after a week when city after city fell to the militants in the wake of the U.S.'s ending its 20-year military operation in Afghanistan.
The Taliban's chief spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, promised Sunday that the lives of women and opponents would be protected.
Mujahid said fighters would "be on standby on all entrances of Kabul until a peaceful and satisfactory transfer of power is agreed." In a separate statement to NBC News, a Taliban spokesman said fighters entering Kabul were unarmed on instructions from senior commanders.
The Taliban advance and the ensuing collapse of the government sent large numbers of civilians fleeing their homes, seeking refuge from both the fighting and the return of the hard-line Islamist regime that ruled the country before 2001.
"It's certainly the case that the speed with which cities fell was much greater than anyone anticipated, including the Afghans, including many of the analysts" monitoring the situation, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday on NBC's "TODAY."