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Taliban could embark on ‘orgy of killings’ of Afghans who helped Australia, expert says

Australia will need to consider military evacuations of Afghans who helped its defence forces and government agencies because airlines may soon no longer fly to Kabul if a full-scale civil war breaks out, an Afghanistan expert says.

Around 60 Afghans who worked as interpreters and other vital roles assisting Australia’s mission in Afghanistan have arrived in Australia in recent days.

The government says it is urgently processing the visa applications of its former Afghan locally engaged employees and expects to give a decision to everyone who has applied so far by September 11, when coalition forces are due to withdraw.

There are fears a resurgent Taliban could step-up attacks against Afghans who supported the foreign forces in the past 20 years, with the militant group long issuing threatening ‘night letters’ to interpreters and others.

Professor Wiliam Maley, an expert on Afghan politics, says those who can’t get Australian visas by September will be “extraordinarily vulnerable”.

“The Taliban, if they manage to take over, will embark on an orgy of killings of people who have been associated with the international presence in order to send a signal to the wider population that they are in charge, rather than any other political group, and that there will be no going back,” he told SBS News.

Afghan security personnel at a checkpoint around the Green Zone, which houses foreign embassies in Kabul.

Afghan security personnel at a checkpoint around the Green Zone, which houses foreign embassies in Kabul.

AAP

Professor Maley said there was a disparity between the urgency at which the government closed its Kabul embassy to how it is treating the security of former Afghan staff.

“(The embassy closure) suggests a situation of the greatest urgency, and yet the approach to the rescuing of people who are at risk because of their prior association with Australia seems to be vastly more relaxed than the urgency associated with the closure of the embassy might lead one to have expected,” he said.

So far, Australia has resisted growing calls for a military evacuation of its former Afghan staff, including from former defence personnel.

The US plans to evacuate as many as 50,000 Afghans who have supported its mission in the coming weeks.

Those who have arrived in recent weeks have come on commercial flights, but are exempt from Australia’s border restrictions.

Professor Maley says relying on commercial flights to bring Afghan interpreters and other staff here could be precarious if the security situation in the country deteriorates.

“If the crunch comes the commercial flights will not be flying into Kabul anymore, simply because the insurers of airlines are not going to sanction flying into a potential war zone where major damage to aircraft could accrue,” he said.

“The situation in Afghanistan is really on a knife’s edge at the moment.”

Retired Army Major Stuart McCarthy says time is running out for many of those who are seeking Australia’s help and who live in remote areas of Afghanistan.

“If we don’t get to these people very soon, and I’m talking within a period of days now, these people will fall through the cracks,” he said.

“Many of them will be murdered but we simply won’t know about it. They will just disappear off the face of the planet.”

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