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India to Evacuate Officials, Nationals From Mazar-e-Sharif Consulate Amid Taliban Offensive

© AFP 2021 / FARSHAD USYANAfghan security personnel keep watch near the site of an ongoing attack on an army compound in Dihdadi District of Balkh province on April 21, 2017. -
Afghan security personnel keep watch near the site of an ongoing attack on an army compound in Dihdadi District of Balkh province on April 21, 2017. -  - Sputnik International, 1920, 10.08.2021
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Until last year, India operated four consulates in Afghanistan — Herat, Jalalabad, Kandahar and Mazar-e-Sharif. Last year, however, Delhi closed its consulates in Herat and Jalalabad and it evacuated the Indian staff from Kandahar last month. With Tuesday’s decision, Delhi has further scaled down its diplomatic presence in Afghanistan.
India on Tuesday said that it was evacuating its officials from the consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif as fighting between Taliban insurgents and government forces intensified in the north Afghan city.
Indian foreign ministry sources told Sputnik that officials from the consulate will be travelling back to New Delhi on a “special flight” scheduled to depart in the evening.
The consulate also tweeted an appeal to Indian citizens in and around Mazar-e-Sharif to approach them in case they wanted to fly back to India aboard the evening flight.
​The development comes as the Taliban insurgents threaten Mazar-e-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province and the largest city in Afghanistan’s northern region.
The Taliban said on Monday that it had launched a “four-pronged attack” on the city, as the insurgent outfit has become emboldened by its successful takeover of at least five provincial capitals since the weekend. The Islamist group now claims to control the provincial capitals of Aybak (Samangan), Sar-e-Pol (Sar-e-Pol province), Zaranj (Nimruz), Sheberghan (Zawzjan) and Taleqan (Taleqan province).
India last month flew out its officials from the consulate in Kandahar as well, due to “intense fighting” in the region.
“Due to the intense fighting near Kandahar city, India-based personnel have been brought back for the time being. 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 Indian foreign ministry said on 11 July.
*The Taliban is a terrorist group banned in Russia and may other countries.
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