India has pulled around 50 diplomats, security officials and other staff members posted at the consulate in Afghanistan’s Kandahar in view of the ‘intense fighting’ near Kandahar city and the Taliban gaining control of new areas around the southern Afghan city. The fighting started as the Taliban tries to regain control over the country as the US pulled out its forces after nearly two decades, sources have said. The personnel at the consulate were flown to New Delhi by Air Force planes on Saturday.

The decision comes a day after the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said the embassies were not shut but the administration is monitoring the situation carefully and will take a call accordingly. On Thursday, MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said “The Consulate General of India in Kandahar has not been closed. However, due to the intense fighting near Kandahar city, India-based personnel have been brought back for the time being. I want to emphasize that this is a purely temporary measure until the situation stabilizes. The Consulate continues to operate through our local staff members”.

Since reports emerged of thousands of Pakistan-based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba’s associates joining the Taliban fighters in the intense clashes mainly in southern Afghanistan, the Indian security establishment had to take a call on the safety of Indian personnel. Amid growing concerns in India — which has been supporting the peace and reconstruction efforts — Afghan Ambassador Farid Mamundzay on Tuesday briefed Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on the ground situation.

The Indian embassy has alerted all Indians visiting, staying and working in Afghanistan to exercise the utmost caution and avoid all non-essential travel in the country. In an advisory, the embassy said the security situation remains “dangerous” and terror groups have carried out a series of attacks targeting civilians, adding Indian nationals additionally face a “serious threat” of kidnapping.