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Dozens of Ethnic Kazakhs Brought To Kazakhstan From Kabul On Late-Night Flight


Afghan Kazakhs at the Kazakh Embassy in Kabul on September 5.

NUR-SULTAN -- Kazakhstan says it has evacuated a group of ethnic-Kazakh Afghan nationals from Kabul to the Central Asian nation as countries continue to try and move people out of the war-torn country following the Taliban's seizure of power.

The Kazakh Foreign Ministry said a military cargo plane landed late on September 9 at the Almaty airport with 35 ethnic-Kazakh Afghans on board.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Aibek Smadiyarov told RFE/RL that the plane also brought from Kabul four Kazakh citizens, one Kyrgyz national, and one Afghan citizen who holds a Kazakh permanent residence permit.

Last month, Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev ordered the government to organize the evacuation of ethnic-Kazakh Afghan nationals from Kabul.

Since Taliban militants took control of almost all of Afghanistan last month, many Afghans have urged Kazakh authorities to take them to Kazakhstan, claiming to be ethnic Kazakhs.

Earlier in August, the Kazakh Foreign Ministry said a special commission had been established at the Kazakh consulate in Kabul to look into each request by someone claiming to be ethnic Kazakh.

According to Kazakh officials, there are about 200 ethnic-Kazakh Afghans in Afghanistan. But ethnic Kazakhs who immigrated to Kazakhstan from Afghanistan through a special state program to attract ethnic Kazakhs from abroad launched after the Central Asian nation gained independence in 1991, told RFE/RL that the number of ethnic-Kazakh Afghan citizens still in Afghanistan is much higher.

Kazakhs in Afghanistan are mostly relatives of Kazakhs who fled the Soviets in the 1920-1930s. Many of them speak Dari and/or Uzbek.

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