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India appeals to nationals in Afghanistan to leave, Kabul mission issues fresh advisory

On August 10, India evacuated its diplomats and staff from the Mazar-e-Sharif consulate as well as other Indian nationals in the city in Balkh province which is under attack by the Taliban.

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New Delhi: India on Thursday appealed to its nationals in Afghanistan to leave the war-wracked country even as the Indian Embassy in Kabul issued a fresh advisory urging Indian nationals there to leave by available commercial flights.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi, answering queries related to the situation in Afghanistan where the Taliban have overrun 65 per cent of the territory, said at a briefing: “We want to request Indian nationals who happen to be in Afghanistan even now to look at ways to come back at the earliest while the commercial flights are still on.”

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On August 10, India evacuated its diplomats and staff from the Mazar-e-Sharif consulate as well as other Indian nationals in the city in Balkh province which is under attack by the Taliban.

In a fresh advisory issued on Thursday night, the Indian embassy in Kabul said all the precautionary and security measures that were advised in the previous three Advisories ‘continue to remain valid’ and urged Indian nationals in Afghanistan to once again ‘strictly adhere to the measures advocated’, which included to take the earliest commercial flights out of the country.

The advisory said that three Indian engineers who remained at a dam site that was under Taliban control had to be air rescued. It said the incident highlighted that Indian nationals are ‘not heeding its advice and continuing to put themselves in mortal danger’.

“A recent case that required emergency air rescue of three Indian Engineers who remained at a Dam project site, in an area not under the control of Government forces, has brought to light that Indian nationals receiving this Embassy’s advisories are not heeding its advice and continue to put themselves in mortal danger.”

Referring to Indian media persons visiting Afghanistan in the midst of the violence, the advisory referred to the killing of Pulitzer Prize-winning Indian photojournalist Danish Siddiqui who was killed by the Taliban last month while covering the conflict there.

“Special attention is once again drawn to members of the Indian media arriving in Afghanistan for ground reporting. As a recent tragic incident demonstrated, the public profile of Indian journalists in Afghanistan entails additional risks. It is therefore advised that members of the Indian media should take additional security measures for their stay and movements inside Afghanistan, including tying up of interviews and planned coverage before arrival in Afghanistan, as well as identifying well established security logistic firms who can make necessary security arrangements for stay and movement of the journalists.”

In the August 10 advisory, the Indian embassy in Kabul had said that since violence in many parts of Afghanistan has escalated commercial air travel services to many provinces and cities are being discontinued.

It asked Indian companies operating in Afghanistan to ‘immediately withdraw their Indian employees out of project sites in Afghanistan before air travel services get discontinued’.

“All Indian nationals visiting, staying and working in Afghanistan are strongly advised to keep themselves updated on the availability of commercial flights … and make immediate travel arrangements to return to India before commercial air services are discontinued,” it said.

It also asked Indians working for Afghan or foreign companies in the country to immediately request their employer to facilitate their travel back to India, or contact the Indian embassy.

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