41 killed in Kabul suicide strike at Indian embassy

The aftermath of the Kabul suicide attack.

Kabul was rocked with a major attack on Monday. A suicide car bomber hit the outside wall of the Indian embassy in a crowded neighborhood in Kabul on Monday, killing 41 people and wounding more than 140. The attack is the largest in Kabul since the fall of the Taliban in 2001.

The massive explosion occurred at 8:35 AM, during the morning rush hour when the streets were packed. The Afghan Interior Ministry is located just down the street from the Indian Embassy. Scores of wounded sprawled throughout the streets in the wake of the devastating bombing. "We are walking on rubble," a senior embassy official told DNA India. "The embassy has been blown up badly, the outer structures," he said on condition of anonymity.

Four Indians, including the defense attache, were among those killed. Most of those killed or wounded were Afghans waiting in line to apply for visas to India.

President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack and said it was aimed at destroying relations between India and Afghanistan. He intimated Pakistan was behind the attack. "The president strongly condemned the terrorist attack against the Indian embassy in Kabul and considers it the work of enemies of Afghanistan-India friendship," Karzai said in a statement released by his office.

During the reign of the Taliban in the 1990s, Pakistan backed the extremists, who served as "strategic depth" against India. India backed the Northern Alliance, a grouping of anti-Taliban fighters based out of northern Afghanistan. The Taliban have targeted Indian road crews and aid workers inside Afghanistan in the past.

The Taliban denied being behind the Kabul attack. "We have not done this," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the media.

But the Taliban often deny being behind strikes that result in the murder of Afghan civilians. The Taliban have been behind a series of spectacular strikes in Kabul this year, including six suicide attacks and two complex attacks against high-value targets.

On April 27, Taliban fighters launched a small-arms, machinegun, and mortar attack against a ceremony attended by President Karzai and the US and British ambassadors. Two Afghan members of parliament were killed and 11 were wounded in the assault.

On Jan. 14, a squad of Taliban terrorists raided the heavily secured Serena hotel. A Norwegian journalist, an American aid worker, and at least five security guards were killed in the assault, which included suicide bombers. The Haqqani network, based out of North Waziristan in Pakistan, was directly tied to the Serena Hotel attack.


READER COMMENTS: "41 killed in Kabul suicide strike at Indian embassy"

Posted by Gigantor at July 7, 2008 12:08 PM ET:

Not got at all. Pakistan is probably not directly behind this, but it is indirectly behind it for letting the Taliban have safe haven in the border region between the countries. India will not send troops to Afghanistan so any ideas on what they might do just short of that?

Posted by anand at July 7, 2008 12:25 PM ET:

India gives more grants to Afghanistan than any country other than America. India quietly helps training and equipping the ANSF (but on a small scale.)

India has offered troops for Afghanistan but been turned down because of Chinese and Pakistani sensitivities.

Some fear that the Indian parliament may cut back assistance to Afghanistan because of this.

Posted by anand at July 7, 2008 1:23 PM ET:

This has some relevant info on the attack on the embassy. Karzai is playing with fire by accusing Pakistan's ISI so quickly after the attack.


Posted by KaneKaizer at July 7, 2008 1:52 PM ET:

I wouldn't expect the Taliban to claim responsibility, to avoid being seen as the bloodthirsty savages AQI made themselves out to be. But who else drives car bombs into embassies? As far as I'm concerned, the Taliban denying responsibility is their way of saying "Woops!".

Posted by Jerjes Talpur at July 7, 2008 2:36 PM ET:


Pakistan could not be behind this, because Pakistan is already in difficult conditions, and they can not make it more difficult.

Al-Qaida is operating as terrorist organization in Afganistan and they have expertise in these sort of acitivities.

We have no link, NATO forces completely know this.

Posted by Libertarian at July 7, 2008 3:34 PM ET:

India will probably use the attack to reaffirm support for Afghanistan and encourage the notion that Pakistan was responsible......India has a great strategic interest in developing an alliance w/Afghanistan . For years the Indian military has wanted Afghanistan to be free of control by Pakistan. Moreover, the Indians know that if they run away, they will only invite more attacks; Unlike most European coutries(Spain and Italy come to mind) India has not been intimidated by terrorists.I suppose the Indian military hopes that a friendly and grateful Afghanistan will allow Indian intelligence agents to enter/exit Pakistan thru the Northwest . Interestingly the Indians have also been trying to develop a strong relationship with the Iraqis. I did a quick search and noticed India re-opened its embassy in Iraq in April 2003, well before any Arab country and before many other nations.

Posted by Neo at July 7, 2008 6:07 PM ET:

"The Taliban denied being behind the Kabul attack. "We have not done this," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the media."

This has all the characteristics of a Al Qaeda operation. I doubt if too many outside the cell that carried out the attack knew about it, so in a way the Taliban may not have known the specifics. Undoubtedly, these cells get transited with the help of the Taliban but I doubt they know much about what will happen. Maybe a few years ago all the players would have been in on major operations, but these days there are too many ears around for loose talk.

I don't think this will drive a wedge between Afghanistan and India. In the long term such attacks create a state of hopelessness and paralyzation in Afghanistan. In the short term it may serve as a statement of purpose to those loyal to the cause. Remember that Al Qaeda has merged with elements from various Kasmiri groups. Don't be surprised if one of those groups eventually claims responsibility.

Is Pakistan somehow responsible? Officially, no. This only complicates things for the governing coalition. We must remember that most things done within the Pakistani government are done by factions not the coalition government.

he governing coalition is a fragile thing. Only "popular will" is keeping the government together. There are interests both within and outside the governing coalition that wish to bring it down. They have already neutralized Musharraf and limit the function of the Pakistani Army. Having failed to directly destroy PPP with Bhutto's assassination last year, they now seek to undercut public support. Last year the Taliban learned a lesson in how far they could push the Pakistani population without getting a huge backlash. The Taliban is being a little more selective in how it plays it's campaign against the Pakistani government. If recent polls are any indication, PPP is gradually losing public support.

Posted by Libertarian at July 7, 2008 7:12 PM ET:

Islamic terrorism now consists mostly of slaughtering, torturing and and enslaving muslims. Where in the world is such a strategy succeeding?
In the past 5 years, I would suggest, the number of Americans, Israelis, Indians and Russians etc killed by Islamic terrorists is very small indeed compared with the number of muslims murdered in the Middle East, Asia and Africa

Posted by Arif Jayish Al Amiriki at July 7, 2008 8:40 PM ET:

Anand, good link. I go with Rubin's take - some combination of interests, with someone in ISI at least conducting peer review of the operation before it went ahead. This is war by proxy with India, without the risk of all out war. It also serves the Talib as India is supporting Kabul.

I think while we are all being distracted by good news in Iraq and domestic concerns, a Vesuvius is getting ready to erupt over our Pompei.

Posted by Rosario at July 8, 2008 3:54 PM ET:

Arif, Anand I think you are both correct, thank you for your inputs. This war in Afganistan is a lot more complicated and intractable than I originally thought as there are larger issues strategic issues at work here than the struggle to defeat Al Qaeda. There was an enlightening article in the Times Online today:


"British officers confirmed to The Times an incident last summer in which a Taliban corpse found on the battlefield in Helmand turned out to be carrying papers identifying the body as that of a serving ISI colonel."

It is indeed a delicate balance to foster a free and democratic Pakistan and strike down at those who would take us all back to the dark ages.