Afghanistan, Jalalabad: Yesterday, gunfire and an explosion echoed as militants attacked India’s consulate in Jalalabad, killing three people in the latest in a string of assaults on Indian installations in Afghanistan. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the brazen attack, which coincided with a Nato change-of-command ceremony that saw US General John Nicholson take charge of international troops in Afghanistan.
Indian diplomats were not hurt, the foreign ministry in New Delhi said, after a suicide bomber blew himself up at the consulate’s entrance and four other attackers breached the compound. “All four of them were killed by our security forces,” government spokesman Attaullah Khogyani said after the two-hour assault ended. “Three others — two civilians and one policeman — were killed and 19 other people were left wounded.”
The powerful explosion sent a column of smoke rising in the sky and blew out windows of nearby buildings, as Afghan troops hauled away bodies from the area littered with charred debris. The attack highlights the worsening security situation in Afghanistan as Taliban militants step up nationwide attacks and members of the militant Islamic State (IS) group make inroads in the volatile east.
Wednesday’s assault was reminiscent of a 25-hour gun and bomb siege near the Indian consulate in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif in January. India has been a key supporter of Kabul’s post-Taliban government. A recent UN report highlighted more than 11,000 civilian casualties last year, including 3,545 deaths, a new record since 2009 when the agency began tabulating the statistics.