KABUL: Indian Consulate in Afghanistan’s Herat province was today attacked by four heavily-armed gunmen, who were subsequently killed by the security forces after a nine-hour-long encounter.
In the pre-dawn assault, the gunmen armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades opened fire on the Consulate which houses two buildings in the western Afghan city, bordering Iran.
One attacker was killed while climbing the wall to enter the premises of the Consulate which also houses the residence of the Consul General, Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Amar Sinha said.
He said there were nine Indians in the mission apart from local Afghans at the time of attack.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi said that “four attackers (were) killed.”
One gunman was killed by ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) personnel while three others were shot dead by Afghan forces after a marathon encounter.
The spokesperson said that staff at the Consulate were safe and their morale was high.
“India-Afghanistan officials (were) in touch on attack on India’s Consulate in Herat. Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh (was) monitoring (the) situation,” the official said.
Afghan police officials said gunmen opened fire on the Consulate from a nearby home. The firing lasted for nine hours.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Afghanistan has experienced a rise in the Taliban attacks as foreign troops plan to withdraw from the war-torn country by the end of the year.
In August last year, a failed bombing against the Indian Consulate in Jalalabad city near the border with Pakistan killed nine people, including six children. No Indian officials were hurt.
The Indian Embassy in Kabul was attacked twice in 2008 and 2009 that left 75 people dead.
India has invested in some major infrastructure projects in Afghanistan like Salma hydroelectric dam in Herat province and the Afghan parliament building in Kabul.
India’s development assistance program for Afghanistan currently stands at USD two billion, making it the leading donor nation among all regional countries.–PTI