In the fourth attack since 2007, terrorists, including suicide bombers, struck the Indian consulate in Jalalabad city of Afghanistan on Wednesday, killing nine persons and causing damage to the chancery.
The External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi said all Indians in the mission were safe and six terrorists, who carried out the attack, were dead. While two terrorists blew themselves up, four militants were killed by the Afghan police. Two civilans were also killed in the crossfire.
MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in New Delhi that the consulate was damaged in the attack.
Karzai points finger at Pakistan
The attack on the Indian consulate in Jalalabad on Wednesday is part of a trend of such attacks launched from Pakistan, said former Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai.
“They are simply attacking India’s presence in Afghanistan, whenever they get the opportunity. The whole spectrum of the India-Afghan relations, the relationship itself, is the target of the attacks”, Mr. Karzai told The Hindu in an exclusive interview in Delhi hours after a suicide squad targeted the Indian mission in Jalalabad.
According to the Afghan police, two persons were killed and 19 injured after Afghan security forces battled a group of gunmen outside the mission, which is in the diplomatic district. The attack began when a suicide bomber detonated a car full of explosives outside the consulate, after which three other assailants were killed by security forces.
The area had been > targeted on January 13 as well when nine persons were killed and 12 injured after a suicide bomber struck the diplomatic area. Since the Pakistani consulate was closest to the site of attack, officials had said it was unclear which embassy was the target.
The attack on Wednesday is also the third such major strike on an Indian mission since May 2014, with the last attack on > January 3 this year in Mazar i Sharif . In that incident, the ITBP and Afghan forces had fought off the gunmen after battling them for nearly a day as they launched rocket attacks on the mission.
“What is there in the relationship between India and Afghanistan that would irk someone so much that they would come and attack the Indian consulates, or attack Afghanistan”, asked Mr. Karzai during the interview, adding that terror emanating from Pakistan was the single reason for problems between Afghanistan and Pakistan as well.
The spate of attacks also follow Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s > visit to Kabul and > Lahore on December 25 last, when he had announced the transfer of four attack helicopters to Afghanistan, the first time India had provided Afghanistan with lethal hardware. While Mr. Karzai said he didn’t think the attacks were linked to “any one specific decision by India”, he said the common link was the origin of the groups carrying out the attacks.
“Each of those attacks has originated from across the border, from the neighbouring Pakistan. That’s where the origin of this trouble is: the Lashkar-e-Taiba is from there, the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Jaish-e- Mohammad, all these outfits are from Pakistan. So, the sanctuaries, the training grounds, the financial factors and the motivating factors are all inside Pakistan, and come from across the border”, Mr. Karzai, who has been a strong critic of Pakistan, said.
According to him, there was no possibility Afghans carrying out attacks on Indian missions, including the one in Jalalabad, because of India’s popularity in the country. “There will never be an Afghan-motivated, Afghan-financed attack on Indian interests in Afghanistan. There never was and there can never be, because India is seen as the greatest friend of Afghanistan, historically and today”, he said. However, to a question whether India should increase its security presence in Afghanistan, Mr. Karzai said while it was only natural for Indian personnel to protect Indian missions and interests, there was no other requirement for its presence otherwise at present.
(With inputs from PTI)