Nine Indians killed in Taliban's Kabul attack
At least nine Indians, including two Army officers, were among 16 people killed when Taliban suicide bombers carried out a string of attacks in the heart of Kabul, in yet another incident targeting New Delhi’s interests in Afghanistan. However, sources in the Indian Embassy said that only six Indians were confirmed dead.
The Indians killed were associated with development work in that country. Ten others, five of them Indian Army officers, were injured in the coordinated strike that ripped through hotels and guest houses where locals and nationals from other countries had put up. One of the guest houses, Park Residence, was rented out by the Indian Embassy in Kabul for its staff and those linked to India’s projects in Afghanistan.
The attack, carried out by three armed terrorists, killed an Italian diplomat, a French tourist and a number of Afghan policemen. The Indians who died have been identified as Major Dr Laishram Jyotin Singh of Army Medical Corps, Major Deepak Yadav of Army Education Corps, engineer Bhola Ram, tabla player Nawab Khan, staffer of Kandahar Consulate Nitish Chibber and Indo-Tibetan Border Police constable Roshan Lal.
Jyotin Singh was in Afghanistan to train local doctors at the Indira Gandhi hospital while Deepak Yadav was teaching English at the Afghan Military Academy. Describing the terrorist attack as “heinous”, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna said in New Delhi that those were injured are believed to be out of danger and that “arrangements are being made for their adequate and expeditious treatment, if necessary, by evacuating them to India.”
Krishna termed the attacks “barbaric” and a matter of “deep concern,” and said they were clearly aimed against the people of India and Afghanistan. “These are the handiwork of those who are desperate to undermine the friendship between India and Afghanistan, and do not wish to see a strong, democratic and pluralistic Afghanistan,” he said.
This is the fourth attack targeted at Indians in Kabul since July 2008 when 60 people, including four Indian Embassy officials, were killed in a massive car bomb attack on the embassy building. Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack, saying “attacks on Indian citizens will not affect relations between India and Afghanistan”.
The explosions rattled the residence near the Kabul city centre as a car bomb flattened the nearby Hamid guesthouse, and eyewitnesses saw bodies being carried out from the Park Residence. Witnesses said the wave of attacks near the nine-storey shopping centre Safi Landmark Hotel created a one-metre-deep crater. They also said they saw suicide bombers at the site.
Agency reports said the Taliban claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack which the Afghan police described as “well-planned and coordinated”. “The first explosion took place in front of the Aria... targeting mostly doctors. Subsequently two terrorists, one wearing a suicide vest, entered the Park Residence,” the report, quoting Kabul police chief General Abdul Rahman Rahman, said.
After a shootout with the attackers, the police stormed a room where one bomber detonated his explosives, killing three policemen. The second bomber was killed by the police, Rahman added.