India evacuating its nationals from Mazar-e-Sharif

India evacuating its nationals from consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif

It is learnt 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

An Afghan National Army (ANA) soldier. Credit: AFP Photo

India has moved to bring back home its citizens living in and around Mazar-e-Sharif amid fierce war between the Afghan National Security and Defence Force and the rapidly advancing Taliban near the capital of the Balkh province in northern Afghanistan.

As the Taliban overran several major cities in northern Afghanistan over the past few days and continuing its blitzkrieg, the Embassy of India in Kabul “strongly advised” Indians living across the war-torn country to immediately take flights back home before commercial air services get discontinued.

“As violence in many parts of Afghanistan has escalated, commercial air travel services to many provinces and cities are getting discontinued,” the Embassy of India in Kabul noted in its latest security advisory issued on Tuesday. “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 or visit in Afghanistan.”

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The Consulate General of India in Mazar-e-Sharif on Tuesday posted on Twitter that a special aircraft would leave the city for New Delhi late in the evening. It advised the Indian citizens living in and around the city to take the flight back to the country.

The aircraft would also bring back to the country the officials and security personnel deployed in the consulate. A source in New Delhi, however, clarified that the consulate would not be closed down and the local employees would continue to run it and issue visas to Afghans living in Balkh, Jawzjan, Faryab, Samangan and Sar-e-Pul who are seeking to travel to India.

India moved to bring back home its officials and citizens from northern Afghanistan exactly a month after it evacuated its officials posted at its consulate in Kandahar in southern part of the conflict-ravaged country.

The Taliban over the past few weeks continued its advances through Afghanistan taking advantage of the withdrawal of troops by the United States and its NATO allies from the country. Its fighters reached closer to Mazar-e-Sharif on Monday after overrunning Kunduz and several other cities in northern Afghanistan by Sunday.

If the Taliban can take over Mazar-e-Sharif, it is likely to pose a serious security threat to national capital Kabul, which is just about 425 kilometers away.

Not only the Government of India, but the United Nations also moved to evacuate its officials from Mazar-e-Sharif.

The Taliban’s spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid claimed in a tweet in the evening that the militants had taken over nine bases and outposts of the Afghan National Security and Defence Force and gained control over vast territories, including Kod-e-Barq Chowk on the outskirts of Dehdadi and Mazar-e-Sharif.