Indian consulate attacked in Afghanistan

Indian consulate attacked in Afghanistan

Four terrorists killed; Mission staff safe

Four heavily-armed terrorists attacked the Consulate General of India (CGI) at Herat in western Afghanistan early on Friday, prompting New Delhi to once again point the needle of suspicion towards terror machines based in Pakistan.

This has cast a shadow on prime minister-designate Narendra Modi’s bid to reach out to Islamabad.

None of the Consulate staff was hurt as Indian and Afghan soldiers guarding the mission gunned down all four attackers in an encounter that lasted for almost nine hours. 

Even as Islamabad continued to be noncommittal about its Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to New Delhi to attend the swearing-in ceremony of Modi and his cabinet on Monday, India on Friday just stopped short of blaming Pakistan for the attack on its mission in western Afghanistan.

“The attack once again underscores that the main threat to Afghanistan and to its peace, stability and security stems from terrorism beyond its borders,” the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, Syed Akbaruddin, told journalists in New Delhi.

Armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades, the terrorists attacked the CGI at Ameriat Cross Road in Herat in the early hours on Friday.

The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel deployed to guard the Consulate and soldiers of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) responded immediately with retaliatory firing. While one of the attackers was killed by ITBP personnel, the others were gunned down by ANSF soldiers, according to a PTI report from Kabul.

The PTI quoted India’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Amar Sinha, as stating that one of the attackers was killed when he was climbing the high walls of the Consulate in a bid to enter the main building, which also houses the residence of Consul General Amit Kumar Mishra. 

Nine Indians were in the Consulate at the time of the attack, apart from some local Afghans, he said. The three other terrorists had sneaked into another building in the vicinity to launch the attack.

The terror strike at Herat comes just nine months after a suicide attack on the Indian Consulate at Jalalabad in western Afghanistan on August 3 last year. Subsequent probes by the Afghan National Directorate of Security confirmed that the attack had been carried out by Lashkar-e-Toiba, a terrorist organisation based in Pakistan and known to be supported by the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan. 

The Haqqani Network, another Pakistan-based terror organisation and an ally of the Afghan Taliban, had been blamed for earlier attacks on India’s diplomatic missions in Afghanistan.

Moreover, the Herat attack comes just two days after Modi got the government to invite Sharif and seven other Saarc leaders to attend his swearing-in ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here on Monday.

While Afghan President Hamid Karzai and leaders of four other Saarc nations confirmed their attendance, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has nominated Speaker of the country’s Parliament, Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, to lead the delegation from Dhaka. 

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