Suicide bombers target Indian consulate in Afghanistan
Jalalabad, Afghanistan, August 3, 2013
Suicide bombers attacked the Indian consulate in Afghanistan's eastern capital Jalalabad on Saturday, killing nine people, including children, mostly in an adjacent mosque, officials said.
Twenty-three people were injured.
Guards at a checkpoint stopped the three attackers as their car approached the building around 10 a.m., the office of Gul Agha Sherzai, governor of Nangarhar province, said in a statement.
Two attackers leapt out of the car and a gunfight broke out, while the third remained inside and detonated his explosives. The blast badly damaged the mosque and dozens of homes and small shops in the area.
All three assailants were killed in the explosion.
The Taliban, which spearheads armed opposition to Western-backed President Hamid Karzai's government, denied it was responsible.
"Explosion in front of India's Consulate in Jalalabad. All Indians officials safe," Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said on Twitter.
The bombing followed a world-wide travel alert issued by the United States on Friday, saying that Al Qaeda could be planning attacks in August, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa.
The United States has ordered the closure of 21 embassies and consulates on Sunday, including its Kabul mission.
All the casualties were civilians, the governor said, though one health official said a soldier was among the injured.
Most of those killed or injured were inside the adjacent mosque, according to Nangarhar police chief Mohammad Sharif Amin.
India's Kabul embassy came under attack in both 2008 and 2009, with dozens of people killed.
The eastern border province of Nangarhar, and its capital Jalalabad, have long been a hotbed of insurgent activity.
In June, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) decided to withdraw foreign staff and suspend some activities in the area after an attack that killed a guard and injured three others.
The assault was the first of its kind on the strictly neutral ICRC in Afghanistan since it started operations in the country in 1987.
On Friday, a five-hour battle between Afghan security forces and Taliban fighters in the province's Shirzad district killed dozens of Afghan police and insurgents, officials said. – Reuters