KABUL—For two days, the Taliban battled Afghan government forces in the northern city of Kunduz, edging closer to its center. As shopkeeper Abdul Wahid ventured out for morning prayers on Sunday, he spotted Taliban fighters closing in on key government buildings.
Then, by 10 a.m. local time, it was suddenly over.
The Taliban, relaxed and cheerful, began to take selfies on the city’s main square, Sar-e-Chowk. They were now in charge. “Congratulations, congratulations,” a bearded commander shouted from the center of the square.
The city’s civilians, however, remained mostly indoors. “The city was closed, but the Taliban hoisted their white flags everywhere,” Mr. Wahid said. “There was a fire in the city center, and many of the shops and markets were burning.”
Footage released on social media showed Taliban fighters, wearing camouflage shalwar kameez and black slippers, driving around in Ford Rangers that still had the markings of the Afghan National Army—and white Taliban flags attached to the front grates.