Turkey, Iran suspend consulate offices in northern Afghanistan amid security concerns

Amid the recent spike in violence in Afghanistan and deteriorating security situation, Turkey and Iran have reportedly suspended their consulate offices in the country’s northern province of Balkh. This comes after a surge in the Taliban offensive throughout the country including some districts of Balkh.

Taliban reached near the provincial capital Balkh Mazar-e-Sharif two weeks back, but hundreds of people have held the Taliban at the outskirts of the city, The Khaama Press reported. Turkey’s Embassy in Kabul said its consulate in Mazar-e-Sharif remains open, as it advised Turkish citizens against travelling to the northern provinces of Afghanistan, including Balkh. Citing sources, the news agency further said that visas are no longer being issued by these consulates in Balkh province as the diplomats have been relocated to Kabul. Meanwhile Russia, Pakistan, Iran, and India are among a raft of countries that have suspended or limited operations of their consulates in Afghanistan’s northern Balkh province, officials confirmed on Monday.

Local authorities in Balkh said the missions have not given a clear reason for the move, which comes as clashes between Afghan forces and the Taliban have flared up amid the ongoing withdrawal of foreign troops. India also urged its citizens in Afghanistan to exercise utmost vigilance and caution amid escalating violence. Reports suggest that the diplomatic missions of Afghanistan’s northern neighbors Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan have also limited issuance of visas.