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France Places Afghan Evacuee Thought to be Linked to Taliban Under Surveillance

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A Taliban fighter stands guard at a checkpoint in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021.(AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

Extinction Rebellion targets central London in new protests A Taliban fighter stands guard at a checkpoint in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 22, 2021.(AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

About 1,300 Afghans have in recent days been evacuated by France via a military base in Abu Dhabi.

France has placed under surveillance an Afghan evacuated from Kabul who is suspected of links to the Taliban, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Monday.

About 1,300 Afghans have in recent days been evacuated by France via a military base in Abu Dhabi, after President Emmanuel Macron said the country was opening its arms to people under threat from the Taliban.

Four others thought to be close to the main suspect are also the subject of surveillance measures by French intelligence, Darmanin told AFP.

“We believe that he may be linked to the Taliban even if this person greatly helped in the evacuation from the French embassy," the minister said of the main suspect.

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According to a ministerial document seen by AFP, the man admitted his membership of the Taliban and said he had worked as the armed head of a Taliban checkpoint in Kabul.

“Given the considerable difficulties of carrying out security investigations on the people being repatriated", the French authorities “agreed to take this person and his family on board" the evacuation flight, the minister said.

When the man arrived in Abu Dhabi, France’s DGSI intelligence agency carried out investigations and he has now been notified of the surveillance order, as have the four other evacuees believed to be linked to him, Darmanin said.

Macron promised in a televised address last week that France would “protect those who are most under threat in Afghanistan" while also vowing Europe would put together a “robust" initiative to thwart illegal migration and in particular people-smuggling networks.

“We must anticipate and protect ourselves against significant irregular migratory flows that would endanger the migrants and risk encouraging trafficking of all kinds," he said.

His comments angered the French left and activists who argued he had implied that France would let only a limited number of people in and turn a blind eye to many Afghans who needed help.

Migration is due to be one of the most contentious battlegrounds as Macron prepares for 2022 presidential elections that may come down to a duel with the far-right.

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first published:August 23, 2021, 07:17 IST