M A I N   N E W S

Gunmen attack Indian consulate in Afghanistan
All four terrorists killed
Modi talks to Karzai, vows to continue help
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News Service

Pak link to strike?
0315 hrs: Gunmen carrying rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns open fire on the Indian consulate in Herat province, close to the Afghan border with Iran
The audacious pre-dawn attack that was repulsed by India's ITBP and Afghan security forces is believed to be the handiwork of elements operating from Pakistan
Its timing may be related to the invitation extended to Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif to attend the swearing-in of Narendra Modi on May 26

Indian missions soft target
2014: Suicide bomber killed near Indian consulate in Kandahar
2013: Indian consulate attacked in Jalalabad; nine killed
2008: Suicide bombers attack Indian Embassy in Kabul; 50 die

New Delhi, May 23
Gunmen armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades attacked the Indian Consulate at Herat in Afghanistan early this morning, barely three days before the BJP-led NDA government formally assumes office in Delhi.

The Indian diplomatic staff escaped unharmed, while all four attackers were killed. The attack is believed to be the handiwork of elements operating from Pakistan.

Gunmen opened fire around 3.15 am on the consulate from a nearby home, Herat provincial police chief Abdul Sami Qatra was quoted as saying. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack that was repulsed by India's Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel and Afghan security forces.

One attacker was killed while climbing the wall to enter the premises of the consulate that also houses the residence of the Consul General, said Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Amar Sinha.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin was guarded in his response to questions from the media on the attack. “We strongly condemn this cowardly attack. It again underscores that the main threat to Afghanistan and its peace, stability and security stems from terrorism beyond its borders,” he said.

Asked if India apprehended Pakistan’s involvement in the incident, Akbaruddin said New Delhi was assessing the entire incident in coordination with the Afghan authorities. “I won’t like to jump to any conclusion at this stage.”

Herat lies near Afghanistan's border with Iran and is considered one of the safer cities in the country. The Indian Consulate there focuses on some development projects, including the Salma Dam hydropower project.

Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi spoke to Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Amar Sinha to discuss the situation arising from the attack. During the 10-minute conversation with Karzai, he told the Afghan leader attacks of this nature would not dilute India’s commitment to assist the people of Afghanistan.

On his part, Karzai promised Modi he would do everything to protect Indian missions in his country. “India salutes the efforts of India’s security personnel and Afghan security forces for their valiant efforts to fight terrorists in Herat,” Modi tweeted later.

This is not the first time that terrorists have attacked an Indian mission in the war-ravaged nation, where India has invested more than $2 billion in development works, including roads and power projects.

Last August, an assault on the Indian consulate in the eastern city of Jalalabad killed at least nine persons. Earlier this year, a suicide bomber was gunned down near the consulate in the southern city of Kandahar. In 2008, suicide bombers attacked the Indian Embassy in the capital, Kabul, killing about 50 persons and wounding scores. There was another attack on the Indian Embassy in 2009.





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