A team of Indian investigators is in Kabul, joining a probe being conducted by Afghan authorities into last Friday’s terror attack in which Indians associated with reconstruction works were targeted.
The team has reached Kabul ahead of the visit by National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon there on Friday to discuss aspects related to security of Indians engaged in scores of development projects across Afghanistan.
Mr. Menon is expected to meet the top leadership of Afghanistan including President Hamid Karzai.
The Indian team of investigators, comprising officials of Ministries of Home and Defence, is mandated to collect evidence about the group and individuals involved in the attack in which six Indians, including two Major rank army officers, were killed and 10 others, including five army officers, were injured, sources said.
Afghanistan has set up a five-member team to investigate the incident which was reminiscent of 26/11 as six to eight terrorists exploded bombs outside two hotels and then stormed these, hunting for Indians staying there.
Initial indications suggest involvement of the Taliban, particularly the Haqqani group, in league with elements of Lashkar-e-Taiba in the assault.
The latest attack has made it clear that Taliban and their associates have changed strategy and started targeting Indian officials who are in the field, unlike in the past when they would attack fortified installations like the Embassy.
Realising the change in strategy, India has begun review of their security. Discussions in this regard have been initiated with the Afghan authorities to explore ways for securing them, the sources said.
There are about 4,000 Indians engaged in such projects being implemented as part of India’s developmental assistance to the tune of $1.3 billion.
The officials engaged in developmental projects are vulnerable as they are working in hospitals, schools, power plants and other such public places.
After the attack on Friday, Mr. Karzai assured Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that his Government would take extra measures to ensure protection of all Indians in that country.
The latest attack was the fourth on Indian interests in Afghanistan since July 2008 when a car laden with explosives was blown up at the gate of Indian Embassy, killing 60 people, including four Indians — a Brigadier—rank officer, a senior IFS officer and two ITBP personnel.
In October last year, terrorists struck again at the Embassy, carrying out a car bomb explosion near its outer wall and killing 17 people.
Subsequently, in December, a house keeping staff of an Indian IT company was targeted. Eight people were killed and two IT executives, an Indian cook and a cleaner were among those injured.