India pulls staff from Kandahar consulate after intense fighting
Personnel evacuated as a temporary measure until situation stabilises, ministry says.
India has evacuated about 50 diplomats and security personnel from its consulate in Kandahar, the former Taleban bastion in southern Afghanistan, after days of intense fighting, officials and a security source said Sunday.
The insurgents claimed this week that they now control 85 per cent of Afghanistan, much of it seized since early May when US-led foreign forces began their final withdrawal from the country.
The Taleban also clashed with government forces this week on the edge of Kandahar city, the capital of Kandahar province, where the hardline Islamist movement was born.
"The Consulate General of India has not been closed. However, due to the intense fighting near Kandahar city, India based personnel have been brought back for the time being," India's Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.
"This is purely a temporary measure until the situation stabilises. The consulate continues to operate through our local staff members."
A security source said about 50 Indian personnel, including some six diplomats, have been evacuated from the consulate.
It was still unclear whether they were brought to Kabul or evacuated to New Delhi.
Last week Russia announced it had closed its consulate in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif.
Earlier this month China also evacuated 210 nationals from the country.
The Taleban's rapid gains have seen their fighters capture key border crossings and even attack a provincial capital.
The US withdrawal is now more than 90 per cent complete, the Pentagon announced this month, and President Joe Biden said Thursday the US military mission would end on August 31.
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