'Return Immediately': India Issues Security Alert for Nationals in Afghanistan
On Monday, the Taliban said that they have set their sights on Mazar-e-Sharif.
The Indian Embassy in Kabul on Tuesday, 10 August, issued a security advisory and asked Indian nationals in Afghanistan to "make immediate travel arrangements to return to India before commercial air services are discontinued to their place of visit/stay."
The alert noted that in view of escalating violence in Afghanistan, commercial air services are at the risk of being disrupted and discontinued.
Further, the advisory urged Indian companies operating in the war-torn nation to immediately withdraw Indian employees from their project sites ahead of air services being discontinued.
Earlier, India had also urged its citizen in Afghanistan's Mazar to leave the country on a special fight as the Taliban continues its rapid advance.
"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," a tweet from the Indian Consulate in Mazar said on Tuesday.
Mazar is the fifth largest city in Afghanistan and the largest city in the north. On Monday, the Taliban said that they have set their sights on the city, after a weekend during which several key provinces fell to the group.
A spokesperson for the Taliban announced on social media that they had launched an attack on the city, reported AFP. Mazar-i-Sharif is considered key to the government’s control over the area. If it falls, it would mean a collapse of Kabul's control over the north.
Cities Fall as Taliban Advances
The Taliban has seized five provincial capitals within four days, with northern Afghanistan’s Kunduz province being the latest to have fallen on 8 August.
The Taliban has declared that it's coming to capture Mazar-e-Sharif, the fourth largest city of Afghanistan.
The clashes in the city are expected to be bloody as President Ashraf Ghani and his forces are expected to put up a fight. Dozens of families from Kunduz, Takhar and Badakhshan provinces have fled their homes and sought refuge in Kabul.
Kunduz’s capture would be a significant strategic gain for the Taliban, as it gives good access to much of northern Afghanistan and also provides good access to Kabul, about 335 kilometers away.
(With inputs from AFP).
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