Kabul: Two hundred foreigners in Afghanistan, Americans among them, are set to depart on charter flights from Kabul on Thursday after the new Taliban government agreed to their evacuation, a U.S. official said.
The departures will be among the first international flights to take off from Kabul airport since the Islamist militia seized the capital in mid-August, triggering the chaotic U.S.-led evacuation of 124,000 foreigners and at-risk Afghans.
The flights come two days after the Taliban announced an interim government made up of mainly ethnic Pashtun men, including wanted terror suspects and Islamist hardliners, dashing international hopes for a more moderate administration.
The Taliban were pressed to allow the departures by U.S. Special Representative Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. official said, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The official could not say whether the American civilians and other foreign nationals were among people stranded for days in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif because their private charters had not been allowed to depart.
The announcement of a new government on Tuesday was widely seen as a signal the Taliban were not looking to broaden their base and present a more tolerant face to the world, as they had earlier suggested they would do.
All of the ministers are men, and nearly all are Pashtuns, the ethnic group that predominates in the Taliban’s southern Afgan heartland but accounts for less than half the country’s population.
Foreign countries greeted the interim government with caution and dismay on Wednesday. In Kabul, dozens of women took to the streets in protest and several journalists covering the demonstration said Taliban fighters detained and beat them.
The new Taliban Interior Ministry later said that to avoid disturbances and security problems, anyone holding a demonstration should apply for permission 24 hours in advance.
Protests by both women and men were being curtailed because there was a security threat from Islamic State fighters, said a Taliban minister who declined to be identified. Any attack on journalists would be investigated, he said.—Reuters