Targeting the Indian embassy here for the second time, a Taliban suicide bomber on Thursday blew up an explosives-laden car outside the mission, killing 17 people and injuring over 80, including three Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel. The embassy staff, however, are safe.

The blast, which occurred near the outer perimeter of the heavily-fortified embassy around 8.30 a.m., damaged a wall and destroyed a watch tower, besides leaving a trail of death and destruction.

The explosion was more powerful than the blast of July 7, 2008.

“A suicide car bomb blast took place near the Indian embassy in which 15 civilians and two Afghan policemen were killed and 76 wounded. Most of the wounded are civilians,” the Afghan Interior Ministry said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and identified the bomber as Khalid, Al Jazeera TV channel said.

Indian ambassador Jayant Prasad said the “embassy was the target” but the suicide bomber failed to breach the security perimeter.

Soon after the attack, the security of the embassy and the personnel was reviewed at a meeting at the Interior Ministry in which Mr. Prasad and officials from the Afghan Foreign Ministry were present.

Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman Fakiri said the “brutal attack” was carried out by “enemies” of Indo-Afghan ties and their “bases are outside Afghanistan.”

In 2008, a suicide car bomber rammed the gate of the embassy, killing 60 people, including senior IFS officer V.V. Rao and Brigadier-rank Defence Attache R.D. Mehta.

This attack, blamed on Taliban militants and linked to Pakistan’s intelligence service ISI, led to the fortification of the embassy and it helped prevent a major catastrophe on Thursday.

After the last attack, a huge wall of concrete was erected and several bullet-proof vehicles for the embassy personnel were procured.

Heinous act: Karzai

Afghan President Hamid Karzai strongly condemned the blast, saying it was a “heinous act of terror” planned to kill innocent civilians.

“This heinous act of terror was an obvious attack on civilians and the perpetrators of this attack and those who planned it are vicious terrorists who kill innocent people for their malicious goals,” he said in a statement.

He extended his heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the families of the victims.

More In: International | News