Militants attack Indian consulate in Jalalabad

By Reuters March 2, 2016 14:31

Militants attack Indian consulate in Jalalabad

There was no immediate word on casualties.

As gunfire rang out, security forces in armoured vehicles were seen moving to the scene while civilians fled.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which followed a suicide attack on the nearby Pakistani consulate in January. That attack was claimed by Islamic State, which has a growing presence in Nangarhar province, of which Jalalabad is the capital.

In January, India’s consulate in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif was also attacked by insurgents.

AFP reports: Explosions and gunfire echoed Wednesday as militants attacked the Indian consulate in Jalalabad in the latest assault to rattle the eastern Afghan city.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the ongoing assault and no fatalities were immediately reported.

“Our consulate has been targeted but everyone is safe,” Indian foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup told AFP in New Delhi.

Witnesses said they saw several injured people after a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to the consulate, followed by other explosions and gunfire.

The area, also home to other diplomatic missions, has repeatedly come under attack in recent months.

In January Islamic State jihadists claimed responsibility for a deadly gun and bomb siege of the nearby Pakistani consulate in Jalalabad, the first major attack by the group in an Afghan city.

Wednesday’s attack came as US army general John Nicholson formally took command of NATO-led international forces in Afghanistan, replacing General John Campbell.

“There is still much work to be done. We now find ourselves at an inflection point in our campaign,” Campbell told reporters in Kabul.

“(Afghan security forces) have come far but they still need our help. (Their) desire to improve and their resilience warrants our continued support in the critical years ahead.”

Direct peace talks are expected to start this week in Islamabad between the Western-backed Afghan government and the Taliban, which has been waging a deadly insurgency for more than 14 years.

Delegates from Afghanistan, China, the US and Pakistan recently met in Kabul for a fourth round of talks aimed at paving the way for the nascent peace process.

But the Taliban have stepped up nationwide attacks in an apparent attempt to gain leverage before the planned negotiations.



By Reuters March 2, 2016 14:31

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