Attack on Indian consulate in Afghanistan kills nine

An explosives-packed car outside the building killed nine civilians, including a child A spokesman for the Taliban militant group immediately denied any responsibility for the attack, which rocked the city and left a mosque, private houses, tailors and other nearby shops in ruins.

"A car containing explosives hit a barrier near the consulate and detonated," Ahmadzia Abdulzai, spokesman for Nangarhar province, of which Jalalabad is the capital, told AFP. "There were three suicide bombers in the car." Nangarhar police chief Sharif Amin confirmed that the consulate was the intended target of the blast, which created a large crater in the road as survivors wearing blood-stained clothing ran for cover.

The interior ministry condemned the attack as "heinous" and said nine people had died, with 21 other civilians wounded. The death toll included at least one child. An AFP photographer reported that ambulances rushed to the scene and took the injured to hospital as security forces cordoned off the area, where several large buildings were badly damaged. Syed Akbaruddin, a spokesman for the Indian foreign ministry in New Delhi, said on his Twitter account that all officials were safe after the attack. 

The first major strike in Afghanistan during the holy month of Ramadan that started on July 10. India, which has spent more than $2-billion two of aid in Afghanistan since the Taliban regime fell in 2001, has been previously targeted in the war-torn country. In 2008, a car bomb attack on the Indian embassy killed more than 60 people and in 2010, suicide attacks on two guesthouses killed at least 16 people, including seven Indians.

"Our fighters have not carried out any attack in Jalalabad," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP. "We do not claim the responsibility for this attack." Jalalabad is situated on the key route from the Pakistani border region, where many militants are based, to Kabul, and it has been the location of repeated attacks in recent years. The compound of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in the city was hit on May 29, the Taliban rebels also denying any involvement in those attacks.

One Afghan guard died in the attack, which triggered widespread outrage as the ICRC is one of the most respected aid groups in Afghanistan and has remained strictly neutral during the war. In March, seven suicide bombers attacked a police base in Jalalabad, killing five officers. The previous month, a bomber rammed an explosives-laden car into the gates of the National Directorate of Security spy agency and detonated bombs, killing two intelligence workers.

Nine Taliban suicide attackers also targeted the NATO base at Jalalabad airport in early December, killing five people and wounding several foreign troops. Nangarhar province has seen heavy fighting in recent days with more than 20 Afghan policemen and dozens of Taliban insurgents killed when hundreds of fighters ambushed a police and military convoy on Friday. The hardline Taliban have led a 12-year insurgency against the Afghan government since being overthrown in a US-led invasion for harbouring Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

But Afghanistan is beset by a myriad of armed groups ranging from Islamist rebels to criminal gangs and militias, formed during the Soviet occupation in the 1980s and the 1992 to 1996 civil war. The US state department said on Friday it was closing at least 22 US embassies or consulates on Sunday, a work day in many Islamic countries, due to the threat of a major militant attack. – AFP

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


Tension over who’s boss of courts

In a letter, Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng questions whether Justice Minister Ronald Lamola has acted constitutionally

SABC sued over ‘bad’ clip of Ramaphosa

A senior employee at the public broadcaster wants compensation for claims of ‘sabotage’

Soundtrack to a pandemic: Africa’s best coronavirus songs

Drawing on lessons from Ebola, African artists are using music to convey public health messaging. And they are doing it in style

In East Africa, the locusts are coming back for more

In February the devastating locust swarms were the biggest seen in East Africa for 70 years. Now they’re even bigger

Press Releases

New energy mix on the cards

REI4P already has and will continue to yield thousands of employment opportunities

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders