Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi/Kabul: Four heavily-armed insurgents attacked the Indian consulate in western Afghanistan`s Herat province on Friday, wounding at least two policemen.
All the attackers were later killed in the gunfire.
According to Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin, the staff at the Consulate are safe and morale is high.
Also Read: `Indian consulate staff in Afghanistan safe`
In a quick response, Prime Minister-designate Narendra Modi spoke to Indian Ambassador in Afghanistan Amar Sinha after the attack and assured him all support to the staff.
Modi also spoke to Afghan President Hamid Karzai about the attack. The Afghan President has assured to do everything to protect India`s Missions in his country.
Pakistan, meanwhile, condemned the attack.
On microblogging website Twitter, Modi said he is closely monitoring the situation.
I condemn the attack on our consulate in Herat, Afghanistan. Closely monitoring the situation. I have spoken to the Ambassador as well.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 23, 2014
The audacious attack comes ahead of May 26 swearing-in ceremony of India`s next prime minister Narendra Modi. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has confirmed that he will attend the oath-taking ceremony.
Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin tweeted:
— Syed Akbaruddin (@MEAIndia) May 23, 2014
Director General of ITBP Subhash Goswami said, "It`s a successful operation. The ITBP killed one intruder and Afgan Army killed three. Firing is over and we are moving inside. There has been no casualty to the Indian side."
He also revealed that the ITBP had “prior intelligence information about such attacks”.
No diplomatic staff has been injured in the attack which started at around 3:30 am.
The gunmen armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades opened fire on the consulate from a nearby home, provincial police chief Abdul Sami Qatra said.
In a series of tweets this morning, Akbaruddin said the staff of the Indian consulate are safe.
He also thanked the ITBP personnel and Afghan forces `rebutting` attackers. Akbaruddin further informed that Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh is monitoring the situation.
The attackers were surrounded by over 150 security personnel, including troopers of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, said a Herat police official. Herat is over 600 km from Kabul.
The choice for attacking Herat has surprised many as the city, which lies near Afghanistan`s border with Iran, is considered one of the safest in the country.
Foreign embassies and consulates remain a favorite target of insurgents in Afghanistan, but many are protected by high walls and multiple gates, as well as security forces.
Afghanistan has experienced a rise in insurgent attacks as foreign troops plan to withdraw from the country by the end of the year.
Herat lies near Afghanistan`s border with Iran and is considered one of the safer cities in the country, with a strong Iranian influence. In September 2013, Taliban gunmen launched a similar assault on the US embassy in the city, killing at least four Afghans but failing to enter the compound or hurt any Americans.
In August 2013, a botched bombing against the Indian Consulate in the Afghan city of Jalalabad near the border with Pakistan killed nine people, including six children. No Indian officials were hurt. Two attacks on the Indian embassy in Kabul in 2008 and 2009 that killed 75 people.
Groups known for targeting Indian interests include Lashkar-e-Toiba and the Haqqani network.