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Taliban closing in on Kabul, India again asks its nationals to leave Afghanistan
As the Afghan military resistance is crumbling, and southern and western Afghanistan having fallen into their hands, the advancing Taliban fighters are preparing for a final assault on Kabul, the Capital city, and seize power from President Ashraf Ghani, who is scheduled to address the nation later today and that is expected to seal the fate of his Government. Meanwhile, refugees from the provinces seized by Taliban are flooding the streets of Kabul. A massive 'humanitarian catastrophe' is in the offing! India has again called upon its nationals in the country to leave immediately.

NEW DELHI, Aug 14: Even as the fierce fighting in Afghanistan has entered a decisive stage and Taliban's takeover of Kabul is imminent, India has again called upon all its nationals to return immediately as the security situation is very grave and commercial air services are likely to come to a halt very soon. There are about 1,500 Indians left in Afghanistan currently, according to official sources. They include those working in Indian projects and with other foreign employers.

However, the embassy in Kabul will remain open. In its advisory, the mission said, “A recent case that required emergency air rescue of three Indian engineers who remained at a dam project site, in an area not under the control of government forces, has brought to light that Indian nationals receiving this embassy’s advisories are not heeding its advice and continue to put themselves in mortal danger.”

The embassy also advised members of the Indian media to take “additional security measures for their stay and movements inside Afghanistan." Illustrating the risks involved, it drew attention to the recent killing of Indian photojournalist Danish Siddiqui.

India had on Tuesday evacuated its nationals in and around the city of Mazar-i-Sharif and the consulate staff there in an IAF aircraft as the Taliban fighters had advanced into the city and people were fleeing the place. Indians in Kandahar were evacuated earlier. However, the consulates will function. India had been asking its citizens to leave the country since June last.

Meanwhile, India has joined the talks being held by representatives of the US, the UK, China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Qatar, Russia, the UN and the European Union in the Qatari Capital, Doha, to find a solution to the Afghan problem.

In its march ahead, Taliban has captured Kandahar, Herat, Lashkar Gah in south, Qala-e-Naw in the northwest and Firuz Koh, capital of central Ghor province as the Afghan forces are in a disarray and unable to put up any resistance. The militants have taken control of 18 of Afghanistan's 34 provincial Capitals since August 6. The militants have taken control of almost whole of Afghanistan, with just Kabul remaining to be captured. The NATO and the United Nations are assessing the situation on "an hour-by-hour basis."

The provinces seized by the Taliban are:- Zaranj (August 6), Sheberghan (August 7), Sar-e-Pul (August 8), Kunduz (August 8), Taluqan (August 8), Aybak (August 9), Farah (August 10), Pul-e- Khumri (August 10), Faizabad (August 11), Ghazni (August 12), Herat (August 12), Kandahar (August 12), Lashkar Gah (August 13), Qala-e Naw (August 13), Feruz Koh (August 13), Pul-e Alam (August 13), Terakot (August 13), Qalat (August 13). \

President Joe Biden said he does not regret his decision to pull back the troops from Afghanistan. But criticism of his policy is mounting in the US. Biden has defended his stand saying, the US has already spent more than $1 trillion in its longest war and lost thousands of troops. The US is set to officially end its two- decade war.

Herat looks 'like a ghost town,' reported Reuters. The US and Britain are sending troops to help their diplomatic staff leave the country safely even as the UN World Food Programme warned of a massive 'humanitarian catastrophe.' The US is sending 3,000 troops and the UK is sending 600.

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