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India Says Kabul Bombing Targeted Its Embassy

By Steve Herman
New Delhi
08 October 2009

India's government says no embassy personnel were killed or severely injured in a car bombing outside its diplomatic compound Thursday morning in Kabul. But Indian officials contend the attack, indeed, targeted the embassy.

Indian officials say the blast shattered windows and blew off doors of embassy buildings, but no one inside was hurt.

India says three members of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, standing outside on guard duty, were slightly injured by shrapnel.

It is Afghan civilians who bore the brunt of the attack, when the blast tore through a market building across the street from the Embassy. Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao told reporters in New Delhi the attack was certainly directed at India's diplomatic compound.

"The suicide bomber came up to the outside perimeter wall of the embassy, in a car loaded with explosives, obviously with the aim of targeting the embassy," said Rao.

For India, the attack revives memories of a similar bombing, 15 months ago. That explosion left dozens of people dead, including two Indian diplomats.

Since then the road in front of the embassy, across the street from the Afghan Interior Ministry, has been barricaded and the diplomatic compound is surrounded by a double layer of high-rise walls.

Foreign Secretary Rao says the latest attack was similar in intensity to the July, 2008, blast which India blames on Pakistan's intelligence service.

"Subsequent to that tragedy, the government of India had taken extra and very stringent measures to safeguard the security, the physical security, of our personnel and our embassy in Kabul," said Rao. "And, I believe that those measures have worked effectively and have been able to prevent what could have been a tragedy similar to what had occurred in July, 2008."

This latest attack on India's embassy comes less than a day after the Indian foreign secretary announced her country's support for reconciliation with the Taliban. Analysts are interpreting that as a significant change in India's stance.

Since the ouster of the Taliban from power in Kabul, in 2001, India has refrained from taking political initiatives regarding Afghanistan. India contributes substantial aid to Afghanistan - more than $1 billion - its largest foreign assistance program. Most of that goes to building roads, electrical power plants and providing health care.

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