Taliban fighters take over fugitive warlord’s luxurious villa

KABUL: Taliban fighters have taken over the glitzy Kabul mansion of one of their fiercest enemies - the warlord and fugitive former vice-president Abdul Rashid Dostum.

Rank and file Taliban fighters took it over on the day Kabul fell on Aug 15. The opulent villa's luxury is the result of years of endemic corruption by Afghanistan's former rulers, the Taliban said.

The luxury that AFP saw on a tour of the mansion would be unimaginable for most Afghans.

Huge glass chandeliers hang in cavernous halls, large soft sofas furnish a maze of lounges and an indoor swimming pool is finished with intricate turquoise tiles. It even boasts a sauna, a Turkish steam bath and a fully equipped gym.

In one wing of the enormous house, Taliban fighters relaxed in a massive tropical greenhouse of several hundred square metres under a huge glass roof.

Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian accused the Taliban of lying and said France will not have any relationship with it.

"They said they would let some foreigners and Afghans leave freely and (talked) of an inclusive and representative government, but they are lying," he said on France 5 TV.

"We want actions from the Taliban and they will need some economic breathing space and international relations. It is up to them."

Paris has evacuated about 3,000 people and had held technical talks with the Taliban to enable those departures.

Mr Le Drian said there were still a few French nationals and a few hundred Afghans with ties to France remaining in Afghanistan. - AFP, REUTERS