The Times West Virginian

Headline News

August 3, 2013

Nine Afghans killed in attack on Indian consulate

KABUL, Afghanistan — Three suicide bombers tried to attack the Indian consulate in an eastern Afghan city on Saturday, sparking a shootout with guards on a bustling downtown street that left at least nine civilians dead, official said.

The attack, which ended when the militants detonated a car bomb that left charred debris scattered in central Jalalabad near the Pakistan border, did not appear to damage the consulate itself, and Indian officials said all of the facility’s staff escaped unharmed.

The Taliban denied responsibility for the attack, and suspicion instead fell upon Pakistan-based terrorist groups that have been blamed for deadly violence against Indian interests in Afghanistan in the past.

The bombing comes at a time when Afghanistan and India are both trying to patch up relations with Pakistan. Islamabad considers Afghanistan its strategic backyard, and has always viewed India — with which it has fought several wars in the past 65 years — as a rival here.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has blamed Pakistani influence over the Taliban for much of the violence in his country, only last week announced plans to travel to Islamabad.

The two nations have had tense ties for years, and Afghanistan has accused Pakistan in the past of supporting the Taliban in the movement’s fight against the Afghan government. But the election two months ago of a new prime minister in Pakistan had raised hopes in Kabul that Islamabad will be more open to helping start peace talks with the Taliban than the previous government — which it perceived to be more hostile to Afghanistan.

Pakistan is seen as a key player in the Afghan peace process, and the U.S. has been trying to enlist its support to help coax the Taliban into talks. Islamabad has ties to the Taliban that date back to the 1990s, and many of the group’s leaders are believed to be detained or living on Pakistani territory.  

Saturday’s attack began when two men wearing explosive vests got out of a car as it approached a checkpoint outside the consulate, prompting a police guard to immediately open fire on them, said Masum Khan Hashimi, the deputy police chief for Nangarhar province. As the two sides exchanged fire, a third militant still in the car detonated a large bomb inside the vehicle.

The blast killed nine bystanders and wounded another 24 people, including a policeman. Six of the dead and three of the wounded were children studying the Quran inside a nearby mosque, according to police and Jalalabad hospital director Dr. Humayun Zahir. All three attackers also died, although it was not clear how many were killed by police fire and how many by the explosion.

There was no indication that Saturday’s attack was linked to U.S. warnings of an al-Qaida threat that has prompted Washington to close its embassies in the Muslim world for the weekend.

The Afghan Taliban denied in a text message that it had carried out the attack. While some Taliban claims have proven spurious in the past, suspicion in Saturday’s assault fell to Pakistan-based militant groups — because of the target as well as the location. Such groups have blamed for past violence against Indians in Afghanistan, including two attacks on the embassy in Kabul in 2008 and 2009 that killed 75 people.

Groups known for targeting Indian interests include Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was blamed for the 2008 attack on the Indian city of Mumbai that killed 166 people, and the Haqqani network which is based in Pakistan’s lawless tribal areas along the border with Afghanistan.

LeT has been active in Afghanistan in recent years, often teaming up with insurgent groups operating in the eastern part of the country near the frontier with Pakistan. In 2010, two Kabul guest houses popular among Indians were attacked, killing more than six Indians. India blamed that attack on LeT.

Last year the U.S.-led military coalition arrested a senior LeT leader in eastern Afghanistan.

The Pakistan-based Haqqani network is affiliated with both al-Qaida and the Taliban, and it has been blamed for attacking Indian reconstruction projects and the Indian Embassy in Kabul.  Both LeT and the Haqqanis have in the past been accused of having ties with the Pakistani security establishment. Although Haqqani leaders have pledged allegiance to Taliban leader Mullah Omar, the group largely operates independently.

Both groups have been named as terrorist organizations by the United States.

In New Delhi, India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said that all Indian officials in the consulate were safe, and then hinted that the assault had been planned outside Afghanistan.

“This attack once again highlighted that the main threat to Afghanistan’s security and stability stems from terrorism and the terror machine that continues to operate from beyond its borders,” he said in statement. “India will not be deterred from its commitment to assist Afghanistan in its reconstruction and development effort.”

India has in recent years invested more than $2 billion in development aid for Afghanistan.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack and lamented the loss of life. He was joined in the condemnation by the governments of Pakistan and the United States.

———

Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez and Amir Shah contributed from Kabul.

 

1
Text Only
Headline News
  • Labor Department cuts levels of allowable coal dust

    The Obama administration said Wednesday it is cutting the amount of coal dust allowed in coal mines in an effort to help reduce black lung disease.
    “Today we advance a very basic principle: you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your life for your livelihood,” Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez said.

    April 24, 2014

  • Obama offers Japan security, economic assurances

    Facing fresh questions about his commitment to Asia, President Barack Obama will seek to convince Japan’s leaders Thursday that he can deliver on his security and economic pledges, even as the crisis in Ukraine demands U.S. attention and resources elsewhere.

    April 24, 2014

  • Supreme Court: Michigan affirmative action ban OK

    A state’s voters are free to outlaw the use of race as a factor in college admissions, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday in a blow to affirmative action that also laid bare tensions among the justices about a continuing need for programs that address racial inequality in America.

    April 23, 2014

  • Court critical of law punishing campaign lies

    The Supreme Court appears to be highly skeptical of laws that try to police false statements during political campaigns, raising doubts about the viability of such laws in more than 15 states.

    April 23, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia has ‘days, not weeks’ to follow by an international accord for Ukraine

    Russia has “days, not weeks” to abide by an international accord aimed at stemming the crisis in Ukraine, the top U.S. diplomat in Kiev warned Monday as Vice President Joe Biden launched a high-profile show of support for the pro-Western Ukrainian government. Russia in turn accused authorities in Kiev of flagrantly violating the pact and declared their actions would not stand.

    April 22, 2014

  • U.S. weighing military exercises

    The United States is considering deploying about 150 soldiers for military exercises to begin in Poland and Estonia in the next few weeks, a Western official said Saturday. The exercises would follow Russia’s buildup of forces near its border with Ukraine and its annexation last month of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

    April 21, 2014

  • Ukraine, Russia trade blame for shootout

    Within hours of an Easter morning shootout at a checkpoint manned by pro-Russia insurgents in eastern Ukraine, Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement blaming militant Ukrainian nationalists and Russian state television stations aired pictures of supposed proof of their involvement in the attack that left at least three people dead.

    April 20, 2014

  • Governor: Closing Boston amid bomber hunt ‘tough’

    Several days after the Boston Marathon bombing, Gov. Deval Patrick received a call in the pre-dawn hours from a top aide telling him that police officers outside the city had just engaged in a ferocious gun battle with the two men suspected of setting the bombs and that one was dead and the other had fled.

    April 20, 2014

  • Everest avalanche reminder of risks Sherpas face

    The rescuers moved quickly, just minutes after the first block of ice tore loose from Mount Everest and started an avalanche that roared down the mountain, ripping through teams of guides hauling gear.
    But they couldn’t get there quickly enough.

    April 20, 2014

  • Colorado deaths stoke worries about pot edibles

    A college student eats more than the recommended dose of a marijuana-laced cookie and jumps to his death from a hotel balcony. A husband with no history of violence is accused of shooting his wife in the head, possibly after eating pot-infused candy.

    April 19, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads