3 militants killed in gunbattle outside Indian mission in Afghanistan

3 militants killed in gunbattle outside Indian mission in Afghanistan
At least three terrorists were killed in a fierce overnight gunbattle with security forces who engaged militants attempting to storm the Indian diplomatic mission in the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

Official sources said special combat units of the Afghan National Police have recovered three bodies from outside the Indian consulate.

Security forces have launched a daunting onslaught to nail down at least two to three other mercenaries who are holed up in a five-storey building about 100 metres across the road from the facility.

They said military choppers of the Afghanistan security forces have dropped commandos atop the building holding the militants and the battle is "inching towards final assault."

Officials said the consulate came under attack when at least two militants tried to "storm" it last night at around 2115 hours and ITBP guards deployed on the sentry post foiled their attempt by raining heavy fire on them.

They said at least seven Rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) rounds have been fired in the direction of the cosulate but all missed it by a whisker.

"There has been a heavy exchange of fire between the two sides and soon after the Indo-Tibetan Border Police troops fired, the Afghan police forces took charge of the situation. The firing of rockets and bullets is still on," they said.

Officials added that while there has been no damage to the five-storeyed and pink-coloured Consulate building, the adjacent green-coloured building, from where the terrorists are firing, has been hit badly by the fire and ammunition of the Afghan forces who have cordoned off the entire area.

"The ITBP is on full alert and on standby. The charge is led by Afghan forces and there has been no damage to the staff of the consulate and the diplomats," they said.

ITBP Director General Krishna Chaudhary in Delhi said the force has "secured" the mission area effectively and they were looking forward to get a final word from the Afghan security authorities after they neutralise all the attackers.

"I can assure you that my men are in a state of very very high morale. I first talked to them when the attack started yesterday night and I am in constant touch with them," he said without going into further details about the incident.

Officials privy to the operations said the security forces and the ITBP men had seen two bodies been dragged away last night and it is expected that the attack is the handiwork of at least 5-6 terrorists.

"The Afghan forces are clearing the building where the terrorists are holed up floor by floor. They are now on the last floor," they said.

The floor, sources said, is understood to have had an office of an American NGO or organisation till sometime back.

A strong contingent of over four-dozen ITBP commandos has been securing this facility from 2008 apart from three other missions in the country and the main Embassy in the capital, Kabul.

The security of these sensitive facilities were recently heightened after the ITBP deployed over 35 commandos at Indian missions in Kabul, Jalalabad, Herat, Kandhar and Mazar-i-Sharif. An incident report in this regard has been submitted by the ITBP to the Union Home Ministry in Delhi.
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