January 4, 2016
ISLAMABAD—Afghan officials say security forces have killed all four heavily armed assailants who have been holed up since Sunday night in a building near India’s consulate in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.
Munir Ahmad Farhad, a spokesman for the provincial governor, told VOA at least one security personnel was killed and nine others were wounded fighting the attackers.
The standoff began Sunday evening after the gunmen tried to storm the Indian diplomatic mission by firing rockets at the facility before retreating into a nearby building, erupting an intense gun battle with Afghan security forces.
Officials say the men armed with rocket-propelled grenades and light weapons had engaged Afghan troops all night and the siege continued until Monday evening when members of the commando unit rappelled from helicopters onto the roof of the building and neutralized the threat.
No-one claimed responsibility for the consulate attack.
Taliban denies involvement
The Taliban is mostly blamed for attacks against local and foreign targets in the country.
However, when contacted by VOA, a spokesman for the Islamist insurgency, Zabihullah Mujahid, said that Taliban fighters and sources in the city had no knowledge “about the gunmen involved” in the raid.
Residents in the area told reporters shortly after the standoff began they heard two loud explosions followed by bursts of automatic gunfire. “We are under fire,” Barjabashi Sardar, India’s Consul General in Mazar-e-Sharif, told the Indian media, adding “everybody is safe” because nobody could enter the consulate.
The attack on the Indian consulate is the latest in a series of assaults on India’s diplomatic facilities in Afghanistan.
Suicide bombers attacked India’s consulates in the Afghan city of Herat in 2014 and in the eastern city of Jalalabad bordering Pakistan in 2013.
Meanwhile, police in the capital Kabul reported a powerful car bomb explosion near the city’s international airport Monday evening in which at least 30 people were wounded.
A health ministry spokesman, Mohammad Ismail Kawasi, told VOA that children and women were among the victims brought to government hospitals from the site of the attack.
The Taliban swiftly took responsibility, saying the explosives-laden vehicle targeted a foreign forces’ camp near the airport and inflicted “heavy casualties on the foreign occupier.”
The blast occurred near the eastern entrance of the airport which is dedicated for military purposes and is also used by NATO forces, said interior ministry officials.
The attack took place just hours after a suicide bomber struck a police security post in the same area in his bid to target a foreign military convoy, Kabul police told reporters, adding only the bomber was killed in that attack and a vehicle in the convoy was slightly damaged. The Taliban also claimed responsibility for the bombing.