At least 12 people,including eight children,were killed in a failed suicide bomb attack on the Indian consulate in Jalalabad city,bordering Pakistan,on Saturday. There were no Indian casualties.
According to reports,three suicide bombers,allegedly from Pakistan,drove in a car towards the consulate and detonated explosives,killing nine and injuring 24. All the three bombers were also killed.
Reports from Afghanistan indicate that the bombers were all Pakistani nationals. They had apparently stayed in Kunar for a week,where they were hosted by Arab terrorists,and had reached Jalalabad on Friday night.
The explosion,which created a large crater,occurred at a security check post at the outermost gate of the consulate,about 50 feet from the lane leading to the main complex. There was no major damage to the consulate,said sources.
Security at the consulate had been beefed up recently after New Delhi received inputs about possible attacks. A team had visited the embassy in Kabul and all four consulates in Afghanistan,including Jalalabad,last week.
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Nangarhar province police chief Gen Sharif Amin said most of the victims were children attending religious classes at a nearby mosque. At least eight children were killed, Amin was quoted as saying by Afghan TV. Amin confirmed that the Indian consulate was the intended target. Police in Jalalabad were on alert for such an attack,he said.
Deputy police chief Masum Khan Hashimi said the police opened fire when two of the attackers wearing vests laden with explosives got out of the car. The remaining occupant then blew up the car,he said. Three Afghan policemen were among the injured.
The attack happened when many people,including women,were queueing up outside the consulate to apply for visas. The explosion shook the neighbourhood and blew out the windows of nearby houses. It also damaged the mosque and several houses and shops.
The Taliban denied any hand in the attack. In New Delhi,the role of Pakistan-based groups is being suspected,although sources said it was too early to say anything.
Condemning the incident,Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said: This was clearly an attack,not just against India but against the efforts to help the Afghan people overcome the tragic hardships they have endured due to several decades of war.
He said the main threat to Afghanistans security and stability stems from terrorism and the terror machine that continues to operate from beyond its borders,adding that India will not be deterred from its commitment to assist Afghanistan in its reconstruction and development effort.
We wish to express our deep gratitude to the valiant Afghan security personnel who laid down their lives while protecting the Indian consulate. We wish to express our grief and condolences to the families of the innocent Afghan civilians who also lost their lives during this attack, he said.
External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid called up Afghanistan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rassoul to thank him for the efforts of the Afghan forces in ensuring the safety of the Indian consulate general. Sources said Rassoul told Khurshid that Afghanistan will leave no stone unturned to ensure the safety of Indian diplomatic personnel.
The Indian embassy in Kabul has been attacked twice in 2008 and 2009. In 2010,suicide attacks on two guesthouses killed 16 people,including seven Indians. with PTI