Saudi Arabia 'closes' embassy in Kabul over 'security concerns'

Saudi Arabia 'closes' embassy in Kabul over 'security concerns'
Saudi Arabia has closed its embassy in Kabul citing security concerns following several Islamic State group attacks in Afghanistan, according to reports.
2 min read
07 February, 2023
Saudi diplomats have reportedly left Kabul [Getty/file photo]

Saudi Arabia has closed its embassy in Afghanistan and evacuated diplomats following security threats, Afghan outlet Khaama Press reported on Monday.

Afghanistan's foreign ministry reportedly told the outlet that Saudi diplomats had been evacuated to Islamabad, Pakistan, and it is unclear when they will return. 

The Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, however, was quoted saying that the Saudis had not closed their mission in Kabul and instead returned to Riyadh for 'training'.

"Saudi diplomats have travelled to Riyadh for training and will return to Kabul after a week or so," Mujahid was quoted as saying by Khaama News.

The status of the embassy and the movement of the Saudi diplomats is unclear, with conflicting reports from different sources.

The New Arab has reached out to the Saudi embassy in London for clarification. 

Australian journalist Lynn O'Donnell, widely considered an expert on Afghanistan, tweeted that there appeared to be a "serious diplomatic flight from Kabul amid concerns about deteriorating security situation".

Other reports also emerged on Sunday stating that other embassies in Afghanistan, including those of Pakistan, Turkey and the UAE, have closed.

The Islamic State group has launched several attacks in Afghanistan over the past few months, targeting both the Russian and Pakistani embassies and a Chinese-run hotel in Kabul.  

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Most foreign diplomatic missions in Afghanistan closed in August 2021 after the Taliban overthrew the Western-backed Ashraf Ghani government in a devastating military operation. 

No country has officially recognised the Taliban government, but twelve diplomatic missions remain in Kabul - India, Turkey, the UAE, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Russia, Iran, Pakistan, Qatar, and China.