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Needle of suspicion points to LeT for Jalalabad bombing

The security apparatus at the Indian consulate in Jalalabad, which is near the Pakistan border, had been beefed up and placed on high alert following intelligence inputs of a possible terror attack -- a major factor that led Afghan security personnel to stop the explosives-laden car when it attempted to enter the lane leading to the consulate Saturday.

Three terrorists had attempted to drive the car into the Indian consulate, but were stopped at the checkpost, whereupon two of the terrorists got off and began firing while the third, the driver, triggered the bomb-laden vehicle.

The explosion left a big crater in the road, and shops on the lane leading to the consulate were severely damaged. Also hit was a adjacent mosque where children were studying, killing or injuring a number of them.

The needle of suspicion points to LeT operatives having been sent to Afghanistan to attack Indian missions with logistical support being provided by the Pakistan-based Haqqani network.

The bombing has a similar operandi to the embassy attacks in 2008 and 2009, it is learnt.

Reports percolating from Afghanistan indicate that the bombers were all Pakistani nationals and had been in Kunar for a week. They had reached Jalalabad on Friday night in order to carry out the bombing Saturday morning.

Intelligence inputs had been received earlier of a major terror attack on the Indian missions. An Indian team had been sent to the embassy in Kabul and the four consulates -- in Jalalabad, Herat, Kandahar and Mazar-e-Sharif. The team assessed the security and put in place tougher security measures at the Indian posts in the likelihood of an attack.

In October 2009, a Taliban suicide bomber attacked the Indian embassy in Kabul, killing at least 17 people. None of the Indian officials were injured in the attack.

In July 2008 a suicide bomber rammed a car full of explosives into the gates of the Indian embassy, killing 58 people, including senior Indian diplomat V. Venkateswara Rao and Brigadier Ravi Datt Mehta, while injuring over 150 people.

In 2007, two bombs were lobbed into the Indian consulate in Jalalabad but there was no casualty or damage.

India had, while thanking the Afghan government for providing security to the consulate, Saturday said the attack “once again highlighted that the main threat to Afghanistan's security and stability stems from terrorism and the terror machine that continues to operate from beyond its borders".

Pakistan has condemned the bombing, and emphasized that its consulate is in the vicinity of the Indian mission and all its staff are safe. It has also said that terrorism is a “common enemy” of countries in the region and advocated collective endeavour to combat the scourge.

The bombing could cloud India and Pakistan talks due later this month as part of their resumed dialogue.

India has not yet responded to Pakistan's request for dates for resumed dialogue on Sir Creek, a 96-km strip of water that is disputed between India and Pakistan in the Rann of Kutch marshlands in Gujarat, and the Wullar Barrage built on Jhelum river in Jammu and Kashmir, which Pakistan has protested against.
 

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