A group of Indians stranded in the Afghan capital, Kabul, left at midnight on a military transport plane sent by India, while they were escorted away by Taliban militants, AFP reported.
A group of Taliban militants waiting with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers outside the iron gate of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, AFP reporters wrote.
There are 150 Indian diplomats and nationals in the compound, who are increasingly nervous when they see news that Taliban fighters are taking over Kabul without blood and tightening their grip on the Afghan capital.
India has long been an active supporter of the government that took over Afghanistan after the overthrow of the Taliban regime in 2001, which has deeply affected the Taliban.
But instead of retaliating, Taliban militants outside the Indian embassy escorted them to Kabul airport, where a military aircraft was on standby to evacuate the personnel after New Delhi decided to withdraw its diplomatic mission.
Later on Monday, more than two dozen cars pulled out of the Indian embassy, and some Taliban militants waved and smiled at passengers, afp reporters said in one of the vehicles. A Taliban fighter leads an evacuated convoy out of the city’s “green zone” and onto the main road leading to the airport.
The Indian Embassy decided to ask the Taliban to leave with the Indians because, after entering Kabul the day before, Taliban forces had closed access to the once heavily guarded neighbourhood, where the embassy was located.
A quarter of the roughly 200 people who had gathered in the embassy district had left Afghanistan before the Taliban took full control of the city.
“When we evacuated the second group … we were not sure what was the second group,” he said. We met the Taliban, who refused to let us leave the Green Zone,” said an Indian official who left on Monday. ”
The failure to deliver on the escort promise during the day unnerved the group at the Indian embassy, an experience that one diplomat likened to “house arrest”. It was already dark for hours when the car finally left the compound and drove into the five-kilometer road to the airport.
The snail-like journey took five hours, and passengers were constantly worried about potential attacks every minute.
Strange checkpoints have been set up on the roads, and thousands of people displaced by the war are on their way. Taliban personnel escorting Indian convoys occasionally jumped out of their cars and aimed guns at the crowd, forcing them to retreat.
A man who appeared to be commanding the group of Taliban fighters fired several shots into the air to scare away a large crowd gathered around an intersection.
When the convoy arrived at the airport, the escorts left, and U.S. soldiers were there to coordinate the flight plan.
After waiting another two hours, the group boarded the C-17 Indian military transport plane, which took off at dawn, and landed later in the morning at an air base in the western Indian state of Gujarat.
“I’m very happy to be back,” Shirin Pathare, an Air India employee who took off from Kabul, told AFP as she disembarked. ”
Another Indian, holding his two-year-old daughter, recalled the chaos and anxiety as he hurried out of the office and downtown.
“Just a few hours before I boarded the plane, a group of Taliban visited my workplace,” said the man, who did not want to be named.