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Afghanistan blames Pakistani agents for deadly bomb attack

Latest update : 2008-07-07

Kabul is accusing Pakistani agents of backing a suicide car bomb attack that ripped through the Indian embassy killing 41 people and wounding 139 others, as a pro-Taliban bid to hamper New Delhi's diplomatic links with Kabul.

KABUL, July 7 (Reuters) - A suicide car bomb hit the Indian
Embassy in Kabul on Monday, killing 41 people and wounding 139,
in an attack Afghan authorities said was coordinated with
foreign agents in the region, a likely reference to Pakistan.
 

Afghanistan has accused Pakistani agents of being behind a
number of attacks in recent weeks and Afghan President Hamid
Karzai threatened last month to send troops across the border
to attack militants there if Pakistan did not take action.
 

Afghan analysts argue Pakistan is loath to see the
emergence of a strong Afghanistan that is friendly to India and
is secretly backing the Taliban as a "strategic asset,"
enabling Pakistani forces to concentrate on defending the
Indian border.
 

Pakistan denies the Afghan accusations and strongly
condemned Monday's attack in which the bomber rammed his car
into the embassy just as two diplomatic vehicles were entering.
 

"I saw wounded and dead people everywhere on the road,"
said Danish Karokhil, the head of the independent Pajhwok news
agency, whose offices are nearby.
 

India's military and press attaches and two Indian guards
were among the 41 killed, but a line of people waiting for
visas and shoppers at a nearby market were the main victims of
the blast, the deadliest in Kabul since U.S.-led and Afghan
forces toppled the Taliban from power in 2001.
 

A Taliban spokesman denied responsibility for the attack,
although another militant spokesman said earlier the hard-line
Islamist militia had been behind the bombing. The Taliban often
disown attacks that kill large numbers of civilians.
 

The explosion destroyed the two embassy vehicles, blew the
embassy gates off, all but demolished the embassy walls and
badly damaged buildings inside the compound. Windows were
shattered hundreds of metres (yards) away.
 

Forty-one people were killed and 139 wounded, a senior
police official said.
 

"The Interior Ministry believes this attack was carried out
in coordination and consultation with an active intelligence
service in the region," the Afghan Interior Ministry said.
 

'COWARDLY ATTACK'
 

The militants have vowed to step up their campaign of
suicide bombings this year, graphically demonstrating that
despite the increase in foreign troops in Afghanistan and more
trained Afghan forces on patrol, the Taliban are far from being
a spent force.
 

Insurgents have killed 350 Afghan civilians and wounded
nearly 800 so far this year, the NATO force in Afghanistan
said.
 

"With this cowardly attack, the enemies of peace in
Afghanistan wanted to hurt ongoing friendly relations of
Afghanistan with the rest of the world, especially India,"
Karzai said in a statement. "Such attacks will not hamper
Afghanistan's relations with other nations."
 

India has close ties with the Afghan government and is
funding a number of large infrastructure projects.
 

Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh said in a
statement he was horrified by the attack.
 

"The loss of these precious Indian and Afghan lives in the
service of their country must be condemned in the strongest
terms possible," he said. "Those responsible, directly or
indirectly, for this terrorist attack and for making this
possible are no better than the worst criminals."
 

India's rival Pakistan was the main backer of the Taliban
when it ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, but Islamabad
officially dropped support for the austere Islamist movement as
a result of intense U.S. pressure in the wake of the Sept. 11,
2001 attacks, ordered by al Qaeda leaders hosted by the
Taliban.
 

The U.N. Security Council issued a statement condemning the
attack and expressing concern about the threats to security
from the Taliban, al Qaeda, illegal armed groups, criminals and
drugs traffickers.
 

The statement urged all states to help Afghan authorities
bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers and financiers of
the attack, while noting that measures taken to combat
terrorism should comply with international law.
 

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon also condemned the
bombing. "The secretary-general reiterates that no political
agenda or grievance can justify such reprehensible means," said
a spokeswoman for Ban.



 


 

Date created : 2008-07-07

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