India evacuates diplomatic staff as Taliban forces advance on Kandahar

Officials said the move was purely precautionary, and stemmed from reports that if the Taliban continue to push on to the southern city of Kandahar, which was their headquarters in the 1990s, the fighting in the city with Afghan Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) could get fierce.

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As the Taliban’s claims about taking Afghan territory grow, India has decided to temporarily close its consulate in Kandahar, sending a special Indian Air Force flight to evacuate about 50 diplomats and security personnel of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) back to Delhi, government sources confirmed to The Hindu.

Officials said the move was purely precautionary, and stemmed from reports that if the Taliban continue to push on to the southern city of Kandahar, which was their headquarters in the 1990s, the fighting in the city with Afghan Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) could get fierce.

In April 2020, the government decided to suspend operations at India’s other two consulates in Jalalabad and Herat and pull all its personnel out from there as well.While the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had said the decision to withdraw the staff was due to the COVID pandemic, security concerns were believed to be the reason they have not been sent back yet.Officials say they have been particularly worried about Kandahar, with exit routes limited to the airport, as Taliban forces have taken control of other key districts close to the city. Last Sunday, the district of Panjwai, less than hour’s drive from Kandahar city, fell to Taliban fighters.

 

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