Suicide attack kills 17 outside Indian embassy in Kabul

A Taliban suicide bomber killed 17 civilians and wounded more than 80 in an attack outside the Indian embassy in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

The suicide bomber detonated a car packed with explosives in a market across the street from the Indian Embassy and Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry.

The Taliban took credit for the attack and said the target was the Indian embassy, according to a report from Al Jazeera. The Taliban identified the bomber as Khalid.

Afghan officials are pointing the finger at “a state,” a thinly veiled reference to neighboring Pakistan.

“Afghan government and intelligence sources have made clear to Al Jazeera that they believe that foreign hands were involved. This was an operation which was planned by a state and not – I quote – a group of bandits,” Zeina Khodr, Al Jazeera‘s correspondent in Kabul reported. However, according to a report in the Times of India, an Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesman named Fakiri said the attack was conducted by “enemies of the relations between the two countries” and that the attackers’ “bases are outside of Afghanistan.”

Today’s attack outside the Indian embassy is the second since July 2008, when a suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into the front gate of the embassy and killed 54 people, including a senior defense attache and another senior Indian official.

The 2008 Indian embassy bombing was carried out by the notorious Haqqani Network, run by former mujahedeen leader Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Siraj. Both Jalaluddin and Siraj have close ties with al Qaeda’s leader, Osama bin Laden.

The Haqqanis have extensive links with al Qaeda and the Taliban, and their relationship with Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence agency, or ISI, has allowed their network to survive and thrive in its fortress stronghold of North Waziristan. The Haqqanis control large swaths of the tribal area and run a parallel administration with courts, recruiting centers, tax offices, and security forces. They have established multiple training camps and safe houses used by al Qaeda leaders and operatives, as well as by Taliban foot soldiers preparing to fight in Afghanistan.

American intelligence agencies confronted the Pakistani government with evidence of direct involvement by Pakistan’s ISI in the bombing of the Indian embassy in 2008, The New York Times reported in August. “The conclusion was based on intercepted communications between Pakistani intelligence officers and militants who carried out the attack, the officials said, providing the clearest evidence to date that Pakistani intelligence officers are actively undermining American efforts to combat militants in the region.”

The ISI officers involved in the Kabul bombings were not “renegades,” The New York Times reported, and the intercepts indicated that “their actions might have been authorized by superiors.” US intelligence officials also said “elements of Pakistan’s government seemed to be directly aiding violence in Afghanistan that had included attacks on American troops” and were providing intelligence to Taliban and al Qaeda operatives on the US covert air campaign targeting terror leaders in Pakistan’s tribal areas. The Haqqani Network has been a prime target of these attacks.

List of major complex and suicide attacks in Afghanistan since January 2008:

Oct. 8, 2009 A Taliban suicide bomber killed 17 civilans and wounded more than 80 in an attack outside the Indian embassy in Kabul.

Sept. 2, 2009: A Taliban suicide bomber assassinated the deputy chief of Afghanistan’s intelligence service and the leader of the provincial council during an attack at a mosque in Laghman province. The two Afghan leaders were among 23 people killed in the deadly attack.

July 24, 2009: Police in Khost City killed seven Taliban fighters as they attempted to assault the provincial police headquarters and a bank.

July 21, 2009: Suicide bombers armed with rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles attacked government installations and a US base in the cities of Gardez and Jalalabad. Eight Taliban fighters and six Afghan security personnel were reported killed in the failed attacks.

May 12, 2009: The Taliban launched a multi-pronged suicide attack against government and security installations in Khost province, a stronghold of the deadly Haqqani Network. Eleven Taliban fighters and nine civilians were killed in the day-long assault.

April 1, 2009: Four Taliban suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers attempted to kill the Kandahar provincial council after entering the compound. Security forces foiled the attack but seven civilians and six policemen were killed during the fighting.

March 30, 2009: A suicide bomber wearing a police uniform penetrated security at a police compound in Kandahar’s Andar district and killed five policemen and four civilians after detonating his vest.

Feb. 11, 2009 The Taliban conducted a multi-pronged assault on two Afghan ministries and a prison headquarters in the capital of Kabul that resulted in 19 people killed and more than 50 wounded.

Feb. 2, 2009: A suicide bomber detonated his vest inside a training center for police reservists in the town of Tarin Kot in Uruzgan province. Twenty-one Afghan police were killed and seven more were wounded in the suicide attack.

Dec. 4, 2008: A three-man suicide team stormed the headquarters of Afghanistan’s intelligence service in Khost province. Six intelligence and police officials were killed and another seven were wounded.

Sept. 7, 2008: Two Taliban suicide bombers entered a police headquarters in Kandahar province and searched for a senior police general in charge of border security at the Spin Boldak crossing point. Six policemen were killed and 37 were wounded, including the general, in the bombings.

Sept. 6, 2008: A Taliban suicide bomber penetrated a secure government building in the southwestern province of Nimroz and detonated his vest. The attack killed six people, including Nimroz province’s intelligence chief and his 20-year-old son.

July 7, 2009: A suicide car bomber hit the outside wall of the Indian embassy in a crowded neighborhood in Kabul on Monday, killing 54 people and wounding more than 140.

On April 27, 2008: A Taliban assault team attempted to assassinate President Karzai during a military parade outside Kabul. Two members of parliament were killed and 11 others were wounded during the barrage of automatic gunfire and mortar shells.

Jan. 14, 2008: A suicide assault team from the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network raided the heavily secured Serena Hotel. Terrorists wearing suicide vests breached the front gate with a suicide attack and then entered the hotel and began shooting civilians. A Norwegian journalist, an American aid worker, and at least five security guards were killed in the assault.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of The Long War Journal.

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10 Comments

  • ArneFufkin says:

    I can’t remember: Is this latest mass murder the work of the “Good Taliban” or the “Bad Taliban”? Hopefully, one of the Pak apologists here will stop by to clarify this conundrum for the LWJ community.

  • Spooky says:

    Actually, it may be either or, doing it as a mercenary action on behalf of the ISI.
    India currently (due mostly to Pakistani political pressure) has no troops in Afghanistan, even though they would be a big help. Since the war started, India has been helping out on the civillian side of things, and even that much is criticized by Pakistan who believes that RAW (Research and Analysis Wing, the Indian foreign intelligence agency) is trying to flank them. So I wouldn’t put it past the ISI to hit the Kabul embassy…again.
    Strategic depth at work. The real reason Pakistan won’t bring full to bear on Waziristan et al.

  • The talk of the so-called “strategic depth” is a bogus one.
    A revealing look at Pakistan and how it diverged from India is discussed in my new book: Defeating Political Islam: The New Cold War.
    Unless the motivation and background of Pakistan is understood, our policy will continue to be adhoc, and not strategic, toward South Asia.

  • T Ruth says:

    This is the ISI of Pathetikstan. The timing is probably to show two fingers at Kerry-Lugar in a ‘We’ll-have-the-money-but-its-business-as-usual’ move.
    Apparently the bulk of the casualties were Afghans applying for visas, according to a reported interview with the Indian ambassador.

  • Raven says:

    From the timing of this bombing, may be Obama Administration glanced at India (and other countries?) for military help/ studied the proposal to help in AfPak. This may be a message to India to stay away and/or a message to US that without Pakistan’s help, there is no winning of Afghan war. So, my guess, Pakistan saying we hold the key to this war. If that’s the case, its beyond frustrating.

  • Spooky says:

    Moorthy-
    Oh I know its a bogus concept, but thats the excuse often given right?

  • Mr T says:

    It’s all the same bad actors disguised as rightous defenders of the faith.
    Still a mass murderer who will not receive the promises of the glorius afterlife that his handlers duped him with. No one really knows till they get there including his murderous accomplices and supporters around the world but this kind of murder is never acceptable.
    Interesting how the “hosting” ritual played out in these parts is so important to “honor” but mass murder is ok. Don’t want to offend our “guests” but who cares about the innocent muslim man seeking a visa in Kabul.
    When will we full out attack Haqqannistan?

  • The ISI under Kiyani and all the corps commanders know India is a lackey of USA and its leaders cannot act independently of US advice.Till Indian leaders understand that America and China are in axis(Obama’s rebuff to DalaiLama) and it is matter of time americans packup and leave from Afghanistan with fig leaf provided by Pakistani army, this attacks will continue.Afghanistan under King is the only country which didnot recognise pakistan’s birth in 1949.The missiles of pakistan are all named after Afghans like Ghazni,babur,Ghori etc. Pakistan itself donot have heroes as it doenot consider Indian Muslim heritage as its own.It looks to Arabs for marad. Pakistani citizens are considered impotent eunuchs by Arabs that they even allow pakistani males to see the faces of unmarried Saudi females. unlike even yemenies.

  • Civy says:

    When Afghanistan is secure and peaceful the Pak generals will get no more American money, so they will run a fund-raiser every now and then to make sure they have lots of blood money to misappropriate and squander.
    Perhaps it is time we gave the ISI a taste of their own medicine. Rumor is Predator Hellfires kill official Pak ISI state terrorists just as well as the Taliban brand ones – not that we’d ever do that, or would we?

  • Spooky says:

    captainjohann-
    India is no lackey of the US. They’re closer to the Russians than to the US, even in the post-Cold War world.
    Civy-
    I think thats one of the more likely scenarios to happen actually, though it all depends on the Kerry-Lugar bill which is being recieved poorly by Pakistani nationalists.

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