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Afghan crisis: India evacuating staff from Mazar-e-Sharif

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Issues fresh security advisory, asks citizens to leave Afghanistan

New Delhi: India on Tuesday started evacuating its staff from the Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif and advised its citizens in Afghanistan to make immediate travel arrangements to return home before commercial air services are discontinued in view of the rapidly escalating violence by the Taliban in several provinces there.
The Indian-based staff of the consulate are being evacuated in an aircraft due to the deteriorating security scenario in the city as well as areas around it, people familiar with the development said.
“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 earlier in the day.
The Indian embassy also issued a fresh security advisory, asking all its citizens residing in Afghanistan to make immediate travel arrangements to return home before commercial air services are discontinued from the country in view of a massive spike in violence.
In the advisory, the Indian embassy in Kabul also asked the Indian companies operating in Afghanistan to immediately withdraw their Indian employees out of project sites before air travel services from the country is discontinued.
Indian nationals working for Afghan or foreign companies in Afghanistan should immediately request their employers to facilitate their travel from project sites to India in view of the ground situation, it added.
On the evacuation from Mazar-e-Sharif, it is learnt that the consulate in the city 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.
With the latest evacuation, there will be no Indian staff in any of the four consulates in Mazar, Kandahar, Jalalabad and Herat.
The embassy said the latest advisory was in continuation of the security advisory issued on June 29 and July 24 which remained valid.
“Further, as violence in many parts of Afghanistan has escalated, commercial air travel services to many provinces and cities are getting discontinued,” the embassy said.
“All Indian nationals visiting, staying and working in Afghanistan are strongly advised to keep themselves updated on the availability of commercial flights from various parts of Afghanistan and make immediate travel arrangements to return to India before commercial air services are discontinued to their place of stay/visit in Afghanistan,” it added.
According to the government data, around 1,500 Indians are currently staying in Afghanistan.
The embassy said the advisory is applicable for Indian journalists who are in Afghanistan to cover the latest development.
“It is very essential that all Indian media persons arriving/staying in Afghanistan to establish contact with Public Affairs and Security Wing of the Embassy for a personalized briefing, including specific advice for the location they are travelling to,” it said.
The Taliban has been making rapid advances across Afghanistan by resorting to widespread violence since the United States began withdrawing its troops from the country on May 1. The US has already pulled back the majority of its forces and is looking to complete the drawdown by August 31.

 


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