Amid the deteriorating security situation in northern Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan have closed their respective consulate offices in Mazar-e-Sharif, the provincial center of Balkh, local media reports said
Amid the deteriorating security situation in northern Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey and Pakistan have closed their respective consulate offices in Mazar-e-Sharif, the provincial center of Balkh, local media reports said. India had closed its consulate in Mazar last year.
Officials said visas are no longer being issued by these consulates and that all diplomats have been relocated to Kabul. The insurgent group has taken over nine out of fourteen districts of Balkh province. The Taliban is closing in on Mazar-e-Sharif, one of the most important northern cities.
Reports said sporadic fighting was going on on the outskirts of the city. Provincial officials, however, said that they reassured the consulates that they would ensure security and protection but the consulates shut down instead.
Meanwhile, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are now limiting the number of visas to Afghans, Ariana News reported. Continued fighting in the northern region has already hit Afghanistan’s bilateral trade with Central Asian countries.
Already local militias along with Afghan security forces are fighting with the Taliban around Mazar-e-Sharif. Atta Muhammad Noor, former governor of Balkh, is currently leading the local resistance force in the province. He has been elected as the chairman of the mobilization council, a newly established local body set up by provincial politicians to protect Mazar-e-Sharif.
Noor said the People’s Mobilization Forces were obliged to defend the city of Mazar-e-Sharif against Taliban attacks and to take part in offensive operations to retake lost territory.
Earlier in the nineties, Noor had led the resistance against the Taliban in the province.