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Taliban held 150 people waiting to be evacuated

August 21, 2021

The Taliban rejected allegations of abducting some 150 mainly Indian citizens from Kabul airport. The militant group said the people were taken in for questioning before being released, according to local media.

Afghans continue to wait around the Kabul International Airport as they try to flee the Afghan capital of Kabul
Scores of Indians were reportedly waiting outside Kabul airport when they were picked up by the TalibanImage: Haroon Sabawoon/AA/picture alliance

Around 150 people, including Indian citizens, waiting to be evacuated from Afghanistan were allegedly captured by the Taliban near the Kabul airport on Saturday and were subsequently released, according to local media reports.

The group, which included Afghan citizens, some of whom were Sikhs, were reportedly waiting outside the gates of the Hamid Karzai International airport when they were picked up by unarmed Taliban officials, according to Afghan news outlet Etilaatroz.

Taliban officials reportedly thrashed several of those waiting and took them to a nearby police station, the news outlet said citing an unnamed source.

Ahmadullah Waseq, a Taliban spokesperson, rejected the claim that they had abducted Indian citizens.

Indian news network NDTV said, citing top government sources, that the Indian citizens were in no immediate danger, adding that back-channel talks were underway to secure their release.

Afghan media later reported that the 150 people rounded up had been taken in for questioning and they were all sent back to the Kabul airport.

Thousands of Afghans rush to the Hamid Karzai International Airport as they try to flee the Afghan capital of Kabul
The Kabul airport has been seeing days of chaos as thousands attempt to escape from a Taliban regimeImage: Haroon Sabawoon/AA/picture alliance

Large-scale evacuation underway

Reports of the alleged abduction come just hours after the Indian Air Force transport aircraft evacuated some 85 Indians amid the deteriorating situation in the war-torn country.

According to Indian media reports, a second transport aircraft of the air force was on standby to fly to Kabul as soon as enough Indians were able to reach the airport. 

New Delhi has closed its embassy in Kabul and evacuated its staff. However, an estimated 1,000 Indian citizens remain in Afghanistan.

Many countries, including Germany and the United States, have been racing to get their citizens, as well as Afghan citizens who assisted Western forces, out of Afghanistan after the Taliban swiftly took over the country.

adi/sms (local media)