India has blamed the botched suicide car bombing on its consulate in Jalalabad, Afghanistan that left 9 dead and 24 wounded on Pakistani Nationals. Some of the fatalities were children, though accounts differ on just how many, and all the casualties were civilians, except for a policeman. The three bombers also died. No Indians were hurt in the attack.
The incident began at 10:00 a.m. Jalalabad time when 3 individuals in a Toyota Corolla approached a checkpoint at the consulate. The car stopped, and two of the men got out wearing explosive vests, and exchanged gunfire with police. The third man then detonated a bomb inside the car. The gunfire persisted for an hour after the blast.
As insurgent groups in Afghanistan are emboldened due to the gradual withdrawal of US troops from the country, India and Pakistan are competing for influence in Afgani territory. India has denounced the attack, its Foreign Office stating that “the suicide attacks against the Indian Consulate General in Jalalabad, which has led to the injuries and deaths of several valiant Afghan Police personnel as well as deaths of several innocent Afghan civilians including children, must be condemned in the strongest possible terms,” and adding that “this was clearly an attack not just against India but an attack against the efforts to help the Afghan people overcome the tragic hardships they have endured due to several decades of war.”
According to the Times of India, anonymous government officials in New Dehli said that intelligence from Kabul, Afghanistan revealed that the bombers were Pakistani nationals who had stayed in Kunar for a week prior to the attack, and “last night, they drove to Jalalabad and targeted the Indian consulate. In Kunar, they were hosted by some Arab terrorists.” The Taliban has denied responsibility for the bombing. So far there has been no obvious link between the incident, and the Al-Qaeda threat that has prompted several countries to close their embassies in several Muslim countries, especially Yemen, starting on Sunday. Some of the other groups that might be behind the incident are Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Haqqani network, and LeT.
The bombing comes in the wake of warnings by Indian intelligence officials to Amar Sinha, the Indian ambassador to Kabul, to not go out in public without body armor, and always travel in a convoy of at least three armored vehicles equipped with electronic jammers, among other security precautions. These safety measures were spurred by Pakistani intelligence agents paying off two Haqqani network members to assassinate Sinha, according to India’s Mail Today. Reuters reports that when asked about the issue, a Pakistani security official responded “Why would we do such a thing when we are trying to improve economic ties with India?”
This is not the first attack on the Indian consulate in Afghanistan. On July 7,2008, a bombing by the terrorist group Haqqani on the diplomatic mission left 58 dead and 141 wounded. According to Amrullah Saleh, head of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security at the time, US intelligence blamed the ISI, Pakistan’s main spy agency, for helping the terrorist organization Haqqani to carry out the attack. Also, on October 8, 2009, a bombing that the Taliban took credit for resulted in 80 casualties, 17 of them fatalities.
By Milton Ruiz