India to evacuate diplomatic staff, citizens from Afghanistan’s Mazar-e-Sharif

NEW DELHI: The government on Tuesday appealed to all Indian nationals living in and around Afghanistan’s Mazar-e-Sharif to leave for India.
The government’s move to evacuate Indians comes as Taliban militants are preparing to launch an attack to capture Mazar-e-Sharif.
“A special flight is leaving from Mazar-e-Sharif to New Delhi. Any Indian nationals in and around Mazar-e-Sharif are requested to leave for India in the special flight scheduled to depart late today evening, the Indian Consulate General of India, Mazar-e-Sharif said in a Twitter post.

“Indian citizens desiring to leave by special flight should immediately convey their full name, passport number, date of expiry by whatsapp at the following numbers: 0785891303, 0785891301.” said another tweet by the Indian Consulate General, Mazar-e-Sharif.
The Taliban were in control of six Afghan provincial capitals on Tuesday after a blitz across the north that forced tens of thousands of people to flee their homes for the relative safety of Kabul and other centres.
The insurgents now have their eyes on Mazar-e-Sharif, the biggest city in the north, whose fall would signal the total collapse of government control in a region that has traditionally been anti-Taliban.
Government forces are also battling the hardline Islamists in Kandahar and Helmand, the southern Pashto-speaking provinces from where the Taliban draw their strength.
The militants, ousted in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, are in a position to advance from different directions on the biggest city in the region, Mazar-i-Sharif. Its fall would deal a devastating blow to Ghani’s government in Kabul.
Taliban and government officials have confirmed that the Islamists have overrun six provincial capitals in recent days in the north, west and south.
Earlier in July, India had evacuated all its India-based personnel from Kandahar by special flight, as Taliban advanced into the city, amidst fighting and violence. The Indian mission is now manned only by the local Afghan staff who work for the Indian government.

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