India evacuates staff from Kandahar consulate as fighting intensifies

Kabul: India on Sunday said it had evacuated its personnel working in its consulate in Afghanistan’s Kandahar due to the intense fighting in nearby areas, clarifying that its diplomatic mission was not closed, the Tolonews reported. 

This comes in the wake of reports that India had closed its consulate in Kandahar in the wake of a sweeping offensive by the Taliban to retake critical towns and cities in Afghanistan after the withdrawal by the US-led forces from the country. According to reports, the Taliban have captured more than 120 districts of Afghanistan with government forces in control of about 75. Some US estimates have suggested that Kabul could be taken over by the Taliban in six months to a year, reports said.

“India is closely monitoring the evolving security situation in Afghanistan. The safety and security of our personnel is paramount. The Consulate General of India in Kandahar has not been closed,” Shri Arindam Bagchi was quoted saying.

“However, due to the intense fighting near Kandahar city, India … personnel have been brought back for the time being. I want to emphasize that this is a purely temporary measure until the situation stabilizes. The Consulate continues to operate through our local staff members,” Bagchi said.

“Arrangements are being made to ensure continued delivery of visa and consular services through our embassy in Kabul,” he said as per reports.

“As an important partner of Afghanistan’s, India remains committed to a peaceful, sovereign and democratic Afghanistan,” he reportedly added.

Previously, Indian media reported that the Indian consulate was closed in Kandahar due to security issues.

Around 50 diplomats and other staff members at the consulate in Kandahar have been evacuated in view of the “intense fighting near Kandahar city” India has said.

Personnel at the consulate were flown to Delhi by air force planes, NDTV reported.

On Friday, the Taliban launched an attack on Kandahar city’s District 7 and took over at least two security outposts, sources said. But security officials said Afghan forces prevented the group from advancing further into the area. (Tolonews)

Taliban has control over 10 districts in Kandahar, according to the sources.

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