M A I N   N E W S

Indians were prime targets in Kabul attack
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 27
It now turns out that the killings in Kabul yesterday, where six Indians lost their lives along with 17 others, were executed by cadres of the Taliban using deadly tactics. A car bomb was used to create a sensation, later gunmen armed with automatic weapons searched rooms of Noor Guesthouse in Kabul and killed people in cold blood. And, Indians were the prime targets, sources here said.

Two officers of the Indian Army were among those killed. Five other Army officers were injured in the attack. An ITBP jawan, an engineer working on power supply in Afghanistan, an official of the ministry of external affairs besides a tabla player of a cultural troupe were also killed. Indian Ambassador in Kabul Jayant Prasad was quoted by websites this morning as having said: “…six Indians died in yesterday's (Friday) attack. It was a 26/11 type of attack. The attackers searched each and every room and killed people."

Noor Guesthouse, housing the Indian military team and staff of the Indian medical mission, was the main target of terrorist strike, according to intelligence inputs. The attack has implications for India as Pakistan tries to wrest control in Afghanistan and sees itself as the main player once the NATO forces withdraw a couple of years down the line.

There are approximately 4,000 Indian security personnel in Afghanistan largely in security duties. The Indians are mainly involved in the construction of roads, bridges and power transmission lines. Some Rs 5,800 crore is pledged by India for Afghanistan. There is no armed intervention or confrontation with the Taliban and no ground or air attacks are carried out by India on Taliban hideouts.

A team of Indian officials and military officials has been dispatched to Kabul to study the security situation as there could be a threat to other Indian assets also in the coming weeks, notably the Indian Consulate.

This was the third attack on Indian officials and interests in Afghanistan in the past 20 months. The Indian Embassy in Kabul was targeted in July 2008 and again in October 2009 in which Indian officials and diplomats were among the killed. In July 2008, India has claimed that it had telephonic intercepts of the Pakistan’s ISI directing the Taliban to attack the Indian Consulate.



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