“Terror mission may have been hastily planned”

Heavily-armed terrorists attacked the Indian consulate in Herat on Friday and were repulsed by the Indo-Tibetan Border Police guards stationed at the diplomatic outpost in western Afghanistan.

With both India and Afghanistan dropping veiled hints of the possible involvement of Pakistan-based groups, the attack threatened to overshadow Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi’s regional initiative of inviting SAARC leaders, including Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, for his swearing in on May 26.

Mr. Modi spoke to India's Ambassador in Kabul Amar Sinha after the attack. “Bolsters morale. Assures all support to brave staff at Consulate in Herat,” tweeted Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Syed Akbaruddin.

In a post on his Twitter account, Mr. Modi said: “I condemn the attack on our consulate in Herat, Afghanistan. Closely monitoring the situation. I have spoken to the Ambassador as well.” 

Later, after Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai spoke to him, he put out another tweet: President Karzai & I talked about consulate attack in Herat. He assured me he will do everything to protect India’s Missions in Afghanistan

The terrorists were armed with rocket-propelled grenades and assault weapons. The attack began at 3.35 a.m. One of the attackers was shot dead by the ITBP guards as he tried to scale the wall.  

Afghan military and police personnel gunned down the three remaining attackers, Herat police chief Fahimullah Qatra said, after a six-hour siege of an adjoining building. Four Afghan police officers suffered injuries in the operation, but no Indians were injured or killed. However, the attackers did not use a car-bomb to overwhelm the mission’s defences, as they did in past strikes — a sign, one Indian intelligence official told The Hindu, that the mission may have been hastily planned.