Jul 11, 2021 16:51 UTC
  • Afghanistan installs anti-missile system at Kabul airport to counter Taliban rockets

The Afghan government says it has installed an anti-missile system at Kabul airport to counter possible rocket attacks by militants, as the Taliban claim to control 85 percent of the country.

"The newly installed air defense system has been operational in Kabul since 2:00 am Sunday," the Afghan Interior Ministry said in a statement, adding, "The system has proven useful in the world in repelling rocket and missile attacks."

Ajmal Omar Shinwari, a spokesman for Afghan security forces said the system was given by "our foreign friends."

"It has very complicated technology. For now our foreign friends are operating it while we are trying to build the capacity to use it," he said.

Since the US started the formal withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan, in May — with a delay in a deadline agreed with the Taliban — the militants have intensified attacks across the country.

The Taliban say they now hold 85 percent of Afghanistan, controlling about 250 of the country's nearly 400 districts.

In recent weeks, the Taliban's rapid gains have raised fears about the security of the capital and its airport, a vital exit route to the outside world for foreign diplomats and aid workers.

India pulls diplomats, staff from Kandahar consulate

In a separate development on Sunday, India announced that it had evacuated around 50 Indian personnel, including around six diplomats, from its consulate in southern Kandahar, where the Taliban militants are fighting with Afghan forces on the edge of the city.

"The Consulate General of India has not been closed. However, due to the intense fighting near Kandahar city, India based personnel have been brought back for the time being," India's Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

"This is purely a temporary measure until the situation stabilizes. The consulate continues to operate through our local staff members."

Last week Russia announced it had closed its consulate in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, while China also evacuated 210 nationals from the country.

Earlier this week, Russia criticized the US and its NATO allies for having failed to stabilize the country after two decades of war and occupation.

“They were unable to achieve visible results when it comes to stabilizing the situation during the decades they spent there,” said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday.

This has also prompted China, another neighbor, to accuse Washington of conducting a hasty and chaotic withdrawal, after almost 20 years of war in the county.

“The US disregards its responsibilities and duties and withdraws troops from Afghanistan hastily, dumping the mess and war on the Afghan people and countries in the region," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a briefing on Friday.