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Australia may shut Afghanistan embassy over security threat

By Barakat Odegbola

Australia has said it will close its embassy in Afghanistan on Friday over security threat, “increasingly uncertain security environment” in Kabul as the foreign troops and armed forces from other countries begin to withdraw from the conflict-ridden region.

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison and Foreign Affairs Minister, Marise Payne, in an official joint statement, disclosed on Tuesday said the embassy building will be shut down “in light of the imminent international military withdrawal from Afghanistan.”

The Prime Minister stressed that the facility would be non-operational “interim measure” on May 28, in just three days “in light of the imminent international military withdrawal from Afghanistan”.

His decision comes as Afghan forces and the elected government remain fragile in their fight against the hardline Islamist faction Taliban that captured 40 kilometers (24 miles) to the west of the city to launch deadly terror attacks.

As the United States forces are expected to end the 20-year long mission and head for the door by September 11, the 20th anniversary of the Al-Qaeda’s terror attack on US twin towers and US-led invasion of Afghanistan, Australia military contingent [backed by US forces] also begin to pull out.

“Around 80 Australian troops are leaving as part of the wider military pull-out, and without that small contingent and the larger US force as back-up,” Morrison said.

Further in the statement, he said, “It is Australia’s expectation that this measure will be temporary and that we will resume a permanent presence in Kabul once circumstances permit.”

Morrison stressed that Australia remains committed to the bilateral relationship with Afghanistan, and will continue to support the stability and development in the region.

Australia did not disclose where it plans to relocate the diplomats. Australian troops will join the United States armed forces for safe withdrawal from Afghanistan.

As Afghan capital was on “high alert,” US Army General Scott Miller warned of any untoward actions on part of the Taliban on the exiting troops.

“Make no mistake, we have the military means to respond forcefully to any type of attacks against the coalition and the military means to support the [Afghan] security forces,” Miller said at a presser.

The warnings by the commander of foreign forces in Afghanistan came after Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted that the US foregoing the May 1 deadline as promised by former President Trump would mean that “this violation in principle has opened the way for [Taliban fighters] to take every counter-action it deems appropriate against the foreign occupying forces”.

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