KABUL: Dozens of people were stopped from “illegally” leaving Afghanistan by air on Monday, a top Taliban official said, and several women among them are being detained until they are collected by male relatives.

Tens of thousands of Afghans fled on evacuation flights from Kabul in August as the Taliban returned to power amid the hasty withdrawal of US-led forces.

Some nations and international NGOs have since operated irregular chartered flights extracting Afghans, but Taliban authorities have increasingly clamped down.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted late Monday that a group had attempted to leave on a flight from the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

“Forty people were arrested... who wanted to go abroad illegally by plane,” he said. He said most were released, but some women “remain detained because their male relatives have not yet come to escort them”.

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2022

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