India evacuating consulate staff from Afghanistan's Mazar-e-Sharif: Officials
India is evacuating its staff from its consulate in Afghanistan's Mazar-e-Sharif in view of the rapidly escalating violence by the Taliban around the capital city of Balkh province, people familiar with the development said on Tuesday.
The Indian-based staff of the consulate and a number of Indians residing in Mazar-e-Sharif are being evacuated due to the deteriorating security scenario in the city as well as areas around it, they said.
It is learned that a special aircraft of the Indian Air Force will evacuate the staff as well as the Indian citizens from the fourth-largest city of Afghanistan.
"A special flight is leaving from Mazar-e-Sharif to New Delhi. Any Indian nationals in and around Mazar-e-Sharif are requested to leave for India in the special flight scheduled to depart late today evening," the Indian consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif tweeted.
It asked Indian citizens who want to leave by the special flight to submit the details like their full name and passport number to the consulate immediately.
The US has already pulled back the majority of its forces and is looking to complete the drawdown by August 31.
(1/2) A special flight is leaving from Mazar-e-Sharif to New Delhi. Any Indian nationals in and around Mazar-e-Sharif are requested to leave for India in the special flight scheduled to depart late today evening.— India in Mazar (@IndianConsMazar) August 10, 2021
It is learned that the consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif will continue to operate through the local staff members.
Last month India pulled out around 50 diplomats and security personnel from its consulate in Kandahar following intense clashes between Afghan forces and Taliban fighters around the city.
A special aircraft of the Indian Air Force was sent to bring back the Indian diplomats, officials and other staff members including a group of Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel.
According to government data, around 1,500 Indians are currently staying in Afghanistan.
Last week, the Ministry of External Affairs said in Lok Sabha that India remained vigilant and is taking all necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of Indians in the conflict-ridden country.
Replying to a question, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan had also said the India-based personnel from the Indian consulate in Kandahar were temporarily withdrawn last month as part of the security measures.
"The security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated in the recent past. In view of this, the government remains vigilant and is taking all necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of Indian nationals and ongoing projects," he said.
The Taliban has been making rapid advances across Afghanistan by resorting to widespread violence since the US began withdrawing its troops on May 1.
Tuesday's development comes a day after Taliban militants captured a sixth provincial Afghan capital on Monday after they ousted Afghan security forces from border towns and trade routes as US-led foreign forces pull out.
On Monday, they took Aybak, the capital of the northern province of Samangan.
“Right now the Taliban are fighting with Afghan forces to capture the police headquarters and compound of the provincial governor,” said Ziauddin Zia, a lawmaker in Aybak.
“Several parts of the capital have fallen to the Taliban.”