India Says Staff From Kandahar Consulate Evacuated Amid Taliban Advance

India has said that it is closely monitoring the security situation in Afghanistan and has evacuated the Indian staff from its consulate in Kandahar as a temporary measure.

“The safety and security of our personnel is paramount. The Consulate General of India in Kandahar has not been closed. However, due to the intense fighting near Kandahar city, India based personnel have been brought back for the time being,” spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs Arindam Bagchi said in a statement. “I want to emphasise that this is a purely temporary measure until the situation stabilises. The Consulate continues to operate through our local staff members.”

The Taliban have increased their advance gaining control of new areas around the southern city of Kandahar, after the U.S. sped up withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan following two decades of war. Tens of thousands of familes in norther provinces of Afghanistan have been forced to flee their homes as the Taliban makes inroads. It has also sent alarm bells ringing from Russia to China.

According to newswire PTI, around 50 Indian diplomats and security personnel were pulled out from the Kandahar consulate. A special aircraft of the Indian Air Force was sent on Saturday to bring back the diplomats, officials and other staff members that included a group of Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel, the report said citing people familiar with the development.

Bagchi said that India will continue to monitor the evolving situation. In the mean time, it is making arrangments to ensure that delivery of visa and consular services are continued through its embassy in Kabul.

“As an important partner of Afghanistan, India remains committed to a peaceful, sovereign and democratic Afghanistan,” the statement said.

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