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India asks its citizens in Afghanistan to exercise caution in view of spike in violence

PTI New Delhi | Updated on July 24, 2021

Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers and police keep watch outside the Bagram Airfield entrance gate (file photo)   -  REUTERS

India has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan

India on Saturday asked its citizens in Afghanistan to exercise utmost vigilance and caution in view of the "dangerous" security situation in several of its provinces, and warned that Indians additionally faced a "serious threat of kidnapping".

In a fresh advisory, the Indian embassy said the terror groups operating in Afghanistan have escalated violent activities including the targeting of civilians and asked the Indians not to travel outside the main cities.

It said the new advisory reiterates the earlier one issued on June 29 which remained valid for all.

The embassy also advised the Indian media personnel travelling to Afghanistan to establish contacts with it for a better assessment of the risks involved, and cited "recent tragic events", in a reference to the killing of Indian photojournalist Danish Siddiqui in Kandahar on July 16.

"Security situation in Afghanistan remains dangerous in several provinces. Terror groups operating in Afghanistan have escalated violent activities including the targeting of civilians. Indian nationals are not exceptions, and they additionally face a serious threat of kidnapping," it said.

"This advisory reiterates advice of June 29 which remains valid for all," it added.

The fresh advisory came amid a spike in terror attacks in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of the majority of American troops from the country. The US plans to complete the drawdown by August 31, ending nearly two-decade of its military presence in the country.

In the advisory, the embassy asked all Indians visiting, staying and working in Afghanistan to exercise "utmost vigilance and caution" with regard to their security and specifically called for restricting all types of non-essential travel.

"All Indian nationals visiting, staying and working in Afghanistan are advised to exercise utmost vigilance and caution with regard to security at the workplace, place of residence and also during movement to their places of work," it said.

The embassy also asked Indians to avoid visiting crowded markets, shopping complexes, mandis, restaurants and other public places.

"Movements, especially, during peak commuting hours should also be avoided. While travelling on roads, maintain distance from possible targets like military convoys, vehicles of government ministries/offices, high ranking officials, law enforcement agencies," it said.

The embassy said all essential movements should be kept as discrete as possible, adding travelling outside the main cities should be strictly avoided.

"All Indian nationals arriving in Afghanistan are advised to register with the embassy/consulates on the website: https://eoi.gov.in/kabul/ or by email to paw.kabul@mea.gov.in. Those already present in Afghanistan, but have not registered, are requested to do so," it said.

The embassy also advised the Indian companies operating in Afghanistan to once again make special security arrangements in respect of their Indian employees deployed at project sites.

"Special attention is drawn to members of the Indian media travelling to Afghanistan to cover events through ground reports," it said.

"As recent tragic events showed, it is essential that all Indian press-persons covering events on the ground establish contact with the Public Affairs and Security Wing of this embassy for a personalised briefing," it added.

The embassy further said: "This will not only help media persons make a better assessment of the risks involved but also make it easier for the embassy to render speedy assistance if needed." As the situation deteriorated in Afghanistan in the last few weeks, India has been in touch with leading international players as well as the Afghan government on the overall developments in the country.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Thursday said that India supports the government and the people of Afghanistan in realising their aspirations for a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future that protects the interest of all sections.

India has been a major stakeholder in the peace and stability of Afghanistan. It has already invested nearly USD three billion in aid and reconstruction activities in the country.

India has been supporting a national peace and reconciliation process which is Afghan-led, Afghan-owned and Afghan-controlled.

Published on July 24, 2021

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