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India pulls diplomats out of Kandahar

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KABUL: India has pulled out majority of personnel from its Consulate General in Kandahar as fighting spikes between Afghan forces and Taliban, said India’s Ministry of External Affairs on Sunday.

A government spokesperson, Arindam Bagchi, has said the evacuation was a temporary measure and that the consulate is not closed and visas will be issued from the Indian Embassy in Kabul.

“The Consulate General of India in Kandahar has not been closed. However, due to the intense fighting near Kandahar city, India based personnel have been brought back for the time-being,” said Mr. Bagchi.

The Indian personnel were seen on Saturday leaving the premises of Kandahar consulate in a cavalcade of official vehicles.

“The Consulate continues to operate through our local staff members. Arrangements are being made to ensure continued delivery of visa and consular services through our Embassy in Kabul,” Bagchi added.

Indian missions in Afghanistan were targeted by terrorists in the past and Saturday’s evacuation is, therefore, being interpreted as a measure to ensure safety and security of the people employed at the Indian Consulate General.

The diplomatic mission in Kandahar serves as an important coordinating centre for the large number of medical tourists who seek treatment in India and obstructions and delays in visa acquisition can create challenges for Afghan citizens intending to visit Indian hospitals.

The security situation in Kandahar continues to remain grim with fierce fighting going on in the suburbs and in nearby areas that have been taken over by the Taliban fighters. Taliban fighters on Friday attacked the jail in Kandahar which holds a large number of veterans of the Taliban movement.

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