India rejects Holbrooke`s opinion, Menon heads to Kabul

Last Updated: Thursday, March 4, 2010 - 17:45

New Delhi: Rejecting US Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke`s remarks about the Feb 26 Kabul attacks, India is convinced that the terrorists` chief target were Indians and is hoping for more leads in the ongoing probe when National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon goes to Kabul Friday.

"We certainly don`t go with it. He (Holbrooke) is entitled to his personal opinion," a government source familiar with developments in Afghanistan said.

"We have taken note of it, but we are not losing sleep over it," the source said.

The sources pointed out that the terrorists` chief target was a building used by the Indian medical mission.

Suicide bombers struck at a hotel and a guest house in central Kabul, killing six Indians, including two army majors, in what Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Jayant Prasad has described as a "26/11-like operation."

Afghanistan`s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, has said there was evidence that Urdu-speaking Pakistanis from Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba were involved in the attack and not the Afghan Taliban.

The NSD has told Indian authorities that the terrorists were looking for Indians and had specific information about who was present, including women from SEWA, an India-based NGO.

In Washington, Holbrooke, US President Barack Obama`s Special Envoy on Pakistan and Afghanistan, said that Indians were not the target of the Kabul attack.

"I don`t accept the fact that this was an attack on an Indian facility? There were foreigners, non-Indian foreigners hurt. It was a soft target. Let`s not jump to conclusions," he told reporters.

"I understand why everyone in Pakistan and everyone in India always focuses on the other. But please, let`s not draw a conclusion for which there`s no proof," he added.

Within hours of the the Kabul terror spree in Kabul, External Affairs Minister SM Krishna said in a statement: "This is the third attack on Indian officials and interests in Afghanistan in the past 20 months." He stressed that these attacks were "clearly aimed against the people of India and the people of Afghanistan."

The Indian embassy was attacked twice, first in July 2008 and then in October 2009.

India is hoping for more concrete leads in the ongoing Afghan probe into the Kabul blasts that will establish without doubt that the attack`s chief target were Indians when Menon meets top Afghan authorities in the Afghan capital Friday.

He will meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Foreign Minister Zalmay Rassoul and other top Afghan leaders to discuss the latest attack, which India has said was designed to undermine the friendship between the Indian and Afghan people.

Menon will review the security for around 4,000 Indians engaged in a host of reconstruction activities in Afghanistan that ranges from building roads, bridges and power stations to training programmes, earning India enormous goodwill in that country.

An inter-ministerial team of Indian investigators is already in Kabul and is assisting the Afghan authorities in the Kabul terror attack.

The Indian team of investigators comprises officials of the home and defence ministries. They will assist the Afghan authorities in the probe, sources said.

IANS



First Published: Thursday, March 4, 2010 - 17:45

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