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Bombers target Indian mission in Afghanistan, 12 locals dead
8 children among dead; no Indian hurt; no major damage to the consulate

Jalalabad, August 3
Suicide bombers on Saturday targeted the Indian consulate in Afghanistan's eastern capital, bordering Pakistan, killing at least 12 persons.

Three bombers drove in a car towards the consulate and detonated explosives, killing 12, including eight children and injuring 24 others. The dead included the bombers. The explosion, which created a large crater, occurred at a security checkpost just ahead of the consulate. All Indian personnel were safe. There was no major damage to the consulate, official sources said in New Delhi.

The Taliban denied any hand in the attack. The Indian Embassy in Kabul has been attacked twice — 2008 and 2009 — killing scores of people.

Today's attack took place in the backdrop of threats of possible terror attacks on Indian diplomats and other assets in Afghanistan. A security team was dispatched from Delhi to Kabul last week to assess the threats.

Afghan officials said one attacker detonated the explosives-laden vehicle while the other two, wearing suicide vests, were gunned down by security forces in an exchange of fire while trying to target the consulate. Three Afghan policemen were among the injured.

Nangarhar province police chief Gen Sharif Amin said most victims were children attending religious classes at a nearby mosque.

"At least eight children were killed," Amin was quoted as saying by Tolo News channel. Amin confirmed that the consulate was the intended target of the blast. Police in Jalalabad were on alert for such an attack, he said.

The attack happened when many people, including women, were queuing up near the consulate to apply for visas. — Agencies




Suspicion on Haqqani network 
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 3
The needle of suspicion is again on the Pakistan-based Haqqani network for the suicide attack on the Indian Consulate in Jalalabad.

Still ascertaining full facts about the incident, New Delhi strongly condemned the attack and expressed deep gratitude to Afghan security personnel who laid down their lives while protecting the Consulate. “The attack has once again highlighted that the main threat to Afghanistan’s security and stability stems from terrorism and the terror machine that continues to operate beyond its borders,” MEA spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said.

He asserted that India would not be deterred from its commitment to assist Afghanistan in its reconstruction and development effort.

This was clearly an attack not just against India but an attack against the efforts to help the Afghan people overcome the tragic hardships they had endured due to several decades of war.

This is the second strike on the Consulate which was earlier attacked in 2007. The Indian Embassy in Kabul too had come under a deadly attack in July 2008 and was again targeted in October 2009. The Haqqani network, assisted by Pakistan’s ISI, had been found to have carried out these attacks. A guest house in Kabul, where Indians on transit usually stay, was also attacked in February 2010.

New Delhi had certain intelligence inputs suggesting that Indian Consulates could be attacked in Afghanistan. A team of security officials had visited Afghanistan recently to assess the security threat.

Sources said though it was too early at this stage to arrive at a conclusion, the involvement of Pakistan-based terror outfits could not be ruled out. The Taliban has already denied its involvement in the attack. It is no secret that Pakistan has been opposed to the functioning of Indian Consulates in Jalalabad, Herat, Kandahar and Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan.

As part of its design to gain ‘strategic depth’ in Afghanistan after the drawdown by NATO troops, Islamabad has made every attempt to see that India winds up its four Consulates but New Delhi has stayed the course.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid called up Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rassoul to thank him for the efforts of Afghan forces in ensuring the safety of the Consulate General of India in Jalalabad. Rassoul said the Afghan Government was determined to counter the efforts of those inimical to India's friendship with Afghanistan.





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