NEW DELHI: India has put in place contingency plans to evacuate hundreds of its officials and citizens from Kabul that has been gripped by fear and panic following reports of Taliban fighters entering the outskirts of the Afghan capital city on Sunday.
People familiar with the development said the government will not put the lives of its staffers at the Indian embassy and Indian citizens in Kabul at any risk and plans have already been finalised in case they require emergency evacuation.
“The government is closely monitoring the fast-paced developments in Afghanistan. We will not put the lives of our staff at the Indian embassy in Kabul at any risk,” said one of the persons cited above.
Specifically asked when the Indian staffers and citizens in Kabul will be evacuated, they said decisions will depend on the ground situation.
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It is learnt that a fleet of the C-17 Globemaster military transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force is kept on standby to undertake evacuation missions.
According to reports from Kabul, Taliban fighters have entered the outskirts of the city, triggering panic and fear among the residents.
In the last few days, the Taliban fighters have swept through most parts of Afghanistan, seizing control of around 25 of the 34 provincial capitals, including cities such as Kandahar, Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif and Jalalabad.
The Afghan Presidential Palace said on Twitter that the situation is under control in Kabul and it has not been attacked, though there were instances of sporadic gunshots.
It said the Afghan security forces are working with their international partners to ensure the security of Kabul.
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“Kabul has not been attacked. The country’s security and defence forces are working together with international partners to ensure the security of the city and the situation is under control,” the statement in Pashto said.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had a telephone conversation with security officials regarding the security of the citizens in Kabul, it said.
The BBC reported from Kabul, quoting the country’s acting interior minister, that a peaceful transfer of power to the transitional government is being prepared.
As the situation deteriorated in Kabul, the United States and the embassies of several other countries began evacuating their staff from the Afghan city.