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Terror visits Indian embassy in Kabul
Car bomb kills defence attache, counsellor
The damaged facade of the Indian embassy after a suicide attack at the site in Kabul on Monday.
Kabul/New Delhi, July 7
India’s defence attaché, a diplomat and three other staff members at its heavily fortified embassy in Kabul were among the 41 persons killed today, after a suicide bomber rammed an explosive-laden vehicle at the mission gates during the morning rush hour.
In what comes as the first major attack on an Indian mission abroad and the deadliest suicide bombing in Kabul since the US-led NATO forces ousted the Taliban in late 2001, defence attaché Brigadier R.D. Mehta, counsellor Venkateswara Rao, two ITBP personnel, Ajai Pathania and Roop Singh, and an India-origin Afghan working at the embassy were killed. But Indian ambassador Jayant Prasad was unharmed in the attack that also left 141 persons, most of them visa seekers, injured.
The impact of the explosion was so huge that Rao’s body was flung over the roof and the embassy’s gates were blown away. Afghan interior ministry spokesman Abdul H. Ashiq said the bomb was placed in a Toyota Corolla car driven by the suicide bomber.
“There was a loud bang at around 8.15 am. Minutes later I saw cars with smashed windows, several damaged shops and wounded and dead people lying scattered on the road,” Danish Karokhil, head of the independent Pajhwok news agency whose office is near the Indian embassy, told PTI from Kabul.
No one has yet taken responsibility for the attack, suspected to have been carried out by the Taliban. A family of five waiting for visa at the embassy gates was among the dead, Karokhil said.
The Afghan interior ministry said a fifth dead employee of the Indian Embassy was identified as Niamutullah, adding that three Indians were among the injured. Seven Afghan guards deployed at the mission were also killed in the blast that damaged two Indian embassy vehicles. Some witnesses said the bomber was trying to target the two diplomatic vehicles as they were entering the embassy premises.
Wounded people lay on the road wailing for help amid blood and severed limbs as a cloud of dust and smoke billowed from the site after the blast. “People in the city are tense,” Aunohita, an Indian journalist, said, adding that the entire area around the embassy was cordoned off by US-led coalition troops.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in a statement that “we strongly condemned the terrorist attack on the Indian embassy and considers it the work of enemies of India-Afghan friendship”. Afghan foreign minister Rangeen Dadfar Spanta visited the embassy soon after the bombing and said such attacks by the ‘enemy’ will not harm the ‘deep relationship’ between India and Afghanistan. — PTI
ISI hand suspected in Kabul embassy blast: Sources
7 Jul 2008
NEW DELHI: The involvement of Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI is suspected in the terror strike at the Indian embassy in Kabul, whose main targets appear to have been the two senior officials, including the Defence Attache killed in the attack.
An explosive-laden car rammed into the Indian embassy gate in the Shahr-i-Naw area as two cars carrying Brigadier Ravi Dutt Mehta and Counsellor V Venkateswara Rao were entering the embassy compound, official sources said here.
Brig Mehta was just beginning his tenure in Kabul having been posted to the city nearly five months back on February 15, 2008. He was an air defence artillery officer who was commissioned into the armed forces in June 1976.
Two ITBP personnel Ajai Pathania and Roop Singh were also among the 41 people killed in the strike in which 141 were injured.
Rao’s body was flung over the roof by the impact of the explosion that blew off the embassy’s gates and outer structure and damaged buildings inside the compound. Two Indian embassy vehicles were also damaged, an official said, adding over 140 people were injured in the blast.
Wounded people lay on the road wailing for help amid blood and severed limbs after the blast as a cloud of dust and smoke billowed from the site.
Mehta had recently taken his wife Sunita and two children — Flight Lieutenant Udit Mehta, M S Bhawiya Mehta — to Kabul to spend their summer vacation.
India said it is rushing a high-level team, headed by Nalin Surie, Secretary (West) to Kabul to assess the “emergency” situation there.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai had blamed the “enemies” of the strong friendship between Afghanistan and India for the attack but did not name any person or group.