Japan flies 14 Afghans from Kabul to Islamabad at US request

TOKYO (Kyodo) – Japan transported 14 Afghans on a Kabul Self-Defense Force plane to Islamabad in neighboring Pakistan at the request of the United States amid heightened tensions in the Afghan capital following the bombings near the city’s airport, government sources said on Saturday.

The 14 Afghans, who are not local staff of government-linked entities, were evacuated Thursday during the first SDF airlift of foreign nationals to another country as part of a mission to evacuate Japanese citizens.

The airlift took place a day before the evacuation of a Japanese national on an SDF plane from the war-torn country.

Two C-130 planes and a C-2 transporter sent by Japan for the mission made several round trips between Kabul and the Pakistani capital on Wednesday and Thursday, but none of the Japanese nationals wishing to board the planes were able to join the ‘airport.

The evacuation mission from Japan involves local staff of the Japanese Embassy and the Japan International Cooperation Agency and their families, in addition to Japanese nationals.

Up to 500 people are expected to be evacuated from Afghanistan, according to a diplomatic source. Japan has explored alternative methods of evacuating them, including using commercial airlines, as the August 31 deadline approaches for the withdrawal of US troops.

On Friday, one of the SDF planes carried Hiromi Yasui, a 57-year-old Kyodo News staff member who lives in Kabul and also runs a business there, to Islamabad. According to government officials, a small number of Japanese remain in Afghanistan because they do not wish to leave the country.

Japanese government officials said the SDF planes will remain on hold while developments in Kabul are assessed.

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