China urges citizens to leave Afghanistan after Kabul attack

ISLAMABAD: China on Tuesday advised its citizens in Afghanistan to leave the country “as soon as possible”, following a coordinated attack by Islamic State militants the previous day on a Chinese-owned hotel in the heart of Kabul.
The Chinese notice appeared to be a setback for Afghanistan’s Taliban leaders who seek foreign investment in hopes of stemming the downward spiral of the Afghan economy since taking over the country more than a year ago.
The Islamic State militant group – a key rival to the Taliban – claimed responsibility for Monday afternoon’s attack on the Kabul Longan hotel, which left three people dead and at least two hotel guests injured as they tried to escape by jumping out the window.
Plumes of smoke rose from the 10-story building in the central Shar-e Naw district, according to footage posted on social media as the attack unfolded. Residents reported explosions and gunshots.
Taliban forces rushed into the area and blocked all roads leading to the site. Khalid Zadran, the Taliban-appointed spokesman for Kabul’s police chief, said the attack lasted several hours, followed by a clearing operation.
On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin called the attack “blatant in nature” and said China was “deeply shocked”.
Beijing demanded a “thorough investigation” and urged the Taliban government “to take resolute and strong measures to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens, institutions and projects in Afghanistan”, Wang said.
The Chinese Embassy in Kabul sent its team to the scene to help rescue, treat and house victims of the attack, Wang added.
“Given the current security situation in Afghanistan, the Foreign Ministry has again advised Chinese citizens and institutions in Afghanistan to evacuate Afghanistan as soon as possible,” Wang said.
The Taliban swept across the country in August 2021, seizing power as US and NATO forces were in the final weeks of their final withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of war.
Since their takeover, the international community has been reluctant to give official recognition to former insurgents who have broken promises to pursue a more moderate path, including reopening schools for girls beyond sixth grade and protecting the rights minorities.
The Taliban government has also recently made statements saying it intends to implement Islamic law, or Sharia, as it did when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan in the late 1990s.
In recent weeks, the Taliban have repeatedly carried out executions and public floggings of people convicted by Taliban courts of crimes including murder and adultery.
China has economic and mining interests in the country, although those familiar with past discussions between the Taliban and Chinese officials say Beijing wants the Taliban to pledge to prevent Uyghur opponents of China from establishing operations. in Afghanistan.
Chinese companies, heavily backed by the government, have tentatively sought to seize opportunities to exploit Afghanistan’s vast untapped resource deposits, particularly the Mes Aynak mine, believed to hold the world’s largest copper deposit. .
In October, the government spokesman appointed by the Taliban Zabihullah Mujahid highlighted China as a key part of Afghanistan’s economic development. China has also revealed its aspirations to play a leading role in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of US forces. At a regional conference, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently called on the United States to unfreeze Afghan assets held overseas and end sanctions against the Taliban government.
There was no information about the identity of the injured Chinese guests at the Kabul hotel or what they were doing in Afghanistan.
The IS statement, carried by one of the militant Telegram channels used by the group, said two of its members targeted the hotel because it is frequented by diplomats and belongs to “Communist China”.
He further claimed that the IS attackers detonated two bags containing explosives that had been left in the hotel earlier, including one in the main lobby, and set part of the hotel on fire. The militant group has provided no evidence for its claims.
There were conflicting reports as to the number of casualties. Taliban officials said three attackers were killed; According to IS, only two of its members took part in the attack, identifying them by name and displaying their photographs. According to Mujahid, the Taliban government spokesman, two foreign residents were injured when they jumped out of the hotel windows.
However, Kabul Emergency Hospital said in a tweet on Monday that it had received 21 injured people, including the bodies of three people.
ISIS’s regional affiliate – known as the Islamic State in Khorasan province – has increased its attacks since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021.


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