All Indians in Kabul safe, evacuation on: Govt sources after reports of abduction by Taliban

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All Indians in Kabul are safe and in touch with Indian officials, government sources told CNN-News18 on Saturday, after reports that around 150 foreigners including Indians were abducted by the Taliban from near the Kabul airport.

The government sources assured that the evacuation process of Indians was underway.

Ahmadullah Waseq, a Taliban spokesperson, told local news outlets that no foreign nationals have been abducted by the Taliban, who have seized power in the war-torn country in a military blitz. Subsequent reports clarified that all those initially held are safe and had been detained to check their documentation.

According to a member of the group taken for questioning, the insurgents released the women after checking their papers and arranged lunch for the men, who would then be ferried to the airport.

India has been making continuous efforts to airlift its nationals stuck in the strife-torn country now overtaken by a militant regime.

Around 80 Indian nationals were evacuated on Saturday itself by a transport military aircraft of the Indian Air Force. The aircraft landed at Dushanbe in Tajikistan after evacuating the Indians, sources said, adding the flight is expected to arrive at the Hindon airbase near Delhi in the evening.

India has already evacuated 200 people, including the Indian envoy and other staffers of its embassy in Kabul, in two C-17 heavy-lift transport aircraft of the IAF after the Taliban seized control of Kabul on Sunday.

The first evacuation flight brought back over 40 Indians on Monday. The second C-17 aircraft evacuated around 150 people including Indian diplomats, officials, security personnel and some stranded Indians on Tuesday.

The Taliban swept across Afghanistan this month, seizing control of almost all key towns and cities, including Kabul, in the backdrop of the withdrawal of the US forces. The mission to evacuate close to 200 Indians was accomplished with support from the US.

Following the evacuation, the MEA said the focus now would be to ensure the safe return of all Indian nationals from the Afghan capital.

The MEA said the immediate priority for the government is to obtain accurate information about all Indian nationals currently staying in Afghanistan.

It also requested the Indians as well as their employers to urgently share the relevant details with the special Afghanistan cell.

News reports earlier said that the government is trying to bring as many Indians as possible into the airport at Kabul to keep them safe while it works out the evacuation logistics. India has evacuated all embassy staff but an estimated 400 citizens remain in several cities in the war-torn country because ascertaining their location and identities, especially in the absence of a full-scale embassy function, is proving to be a challenge. Among those are around 200 Sikhs and Hindus who have taken refuge at a gurudwara in Kabul.

India has been looking at ways to evacuate them, including by coordinating with the US and other friendly countries.

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