UK and US warn their citizens to avoid hotels in Afghanistan
The Channel News Asia reported according to media outlets, the United States and Britain warned their citizens on Monday (Oct 11) to avoid hotels in Afghanistan, days after dozens were killed at a mosque in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group.
The US State Department said, citing "security threats" in the area: "US citizens who are at or near the Serena Hotel should leave immediately."
Britain's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office added: "In light of the increased risks you are advised not to stay in hotels, particularly in Kabul (such as the Serena Hotel)."
According to the report, since the Taliban takeover, many foreigners have left Afghanistan, but some journalists and aid workers remain in the capital.
The report mentioned, the well-known Serena, a luxury hotel popular with business travellers and foreign guests, has twice been the target of attacks by the Taliban.
In 2014, just weeks before the presidential election, four teenage gunmen with pistols hidden in their socks managed to penetrate several layers of security, killing nine people, including an AFP journalist and members of his family.
In recent years, the Islamic State's Afghanistan-Pakistan chapter has been responsible for some of the deadliest attacks in those countries - massacring civilians at mosques, shrines, public squares and even hospitals.
The terror threat has partly overshadowed Taliban efforts to improve their international standing.
Over the weekend, senior Taliban and US delegations held their first face-to-face talks in the Qatar capital Doha since the US withdrawal.
The talks "focused on security and terrorism concerns and safe passage for US citizens, other foreign nationals and our Afghan partners", according to State Department spokesman Ned Price.
"Human rights, including the meaningful participation of women and girls in all aspects of Afghan society," were also raised, Price said in a statement.
According to the State Department, the discussions were "candid and professional" and US officials reiterated that "the Taliban will be judged on its actions, not only its words".
The Taliban said the United States had agreed to send aid to Afghanistan, though the US said the issue had only been discussed, and that any assistance would go to the Afghan people and not the Taliban government.
"US representatives stated that they will give humanitarian assistance to Afghans and will provide facilities for other humanitarian organisations to deliver aid," the Taliban's foreign ministry said, warning that the aid should not be linked to political issues.