02/28/2022, 12.35
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Kabul: Taliban suspends evacuations

Two flights a week operated by Qatar Airways continued to take Afghan citizens abroad. Taking advantage of the war in Ukraine, the Taliban suspendes the operation and conducts searches and detentions in various districts of Kabul and other cities. The Koranic students say they are doing so for security reasons, but those who had worked with NATO or the previous government fear for their lives.


Kabul (AsiaNews) - Tens of thousands of Afghans who were still waiting to be evacuated from the country will no longer be able to leave, the Taliban spokesman and Deputy Minister of Culture and Information Zabihullah Mujahid announced yesterday, saying that no evacuation operation will be authorised until the conditions of Afghan refugees in refugee camps abroad improve.

At the same time, Taliban forces are conducting house-to-house searches in the capital and other cities, assuring that they would only target criminals and terrorists. In reality, it is likely that the former Koranic students who returned to power in August want to take advantage of European and American involvement in a confrontation with Russia to further suppress internal opposition.

The purpose of the ban on travelling abroad is to avoid difficulties for Afghan citizens in a foreign country, the Islamic Emirate spokesman explained. Mujahid said he was well aware of the situation of Afghans stranded in Abu Dhabi, where hundreds had protested in recent weeks, asking to be resettled in the United States.

Not only have the evacuations managed by Qatar Airways with two weekly flights been suspended (it is not known for how long), but also foreign travel in general. Women have been forbidden to travel abroad without a male companion: 'It is the order of Islamic shari'a,' Mujahid said. 

Thousands of people try every day to escape overland by crossing the border into Iran. A letter signed by the head of the General Directorate of Border Police of the Ministry of the Interior instructed the police stations at Kabul airport and along the borders to prevent anyone who has collaborated with the US or NATO from leaving the country. 

Meanwhile, the Taliban have conducted capture and detention operations "in non-Pashtun neighbourhoods", AsiaNews sources explained. "They went to the west where the Hazaras live and to the north where the Tajiks reside".

The Taliban said they had arrested six Islamic State members, nine kidnappers and 53 "professional thieves", making it appear that they had conducted the searches for the security of the capital and the country. "We want to assure the residents of Kabul that these operations are not against ordinary people," the deputy minister said. "Residents of the city should have confidence that the search is proceeding carefully." 

But it is hard to believe: once again the operation, which began on Friday, has put those with links to the previous government or who had worked with international forces before the Taliban takeover on high alert. Patrols on the streets, checkpoints at strategic intersections, and an all-female team was deployed to search women. 

“The intimidations, house searches, arrests and violence against members of different ethnic groups and women are crimes and must stop immediately,” tweeted Andreas von Brandt, the European Union’s ambassador to Afghanistan.

“Despite Putin’s war we are watching you,” he added, referring to the Russian invasion of Ukraine that has dominated news cycles for the past few days. “Focus on securing Europe from Putin,” replied Muhammad Jalal, a Taliban official with a prolific social media presence. “Afghans know what they are doing.”



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