New Delhi/Kabul, Aug 4: Hit by yet another suicide bomb attack on its mission in Jalalabad, India today said "terror machines" that operate from "beyond the borders" was the main threat to the security of Afghanistan and refused to be deterred from its commitment to assist the war-torn country.
At least 12 people were killed in the deadly attack targeting the Indian Consulate in Jalalabad city, bordering Pakistan, in the backdrop of reports that the ISI-backed Haqqani network among others were again plotting to attack Indian interests in Afghanistan.
"This attack has once again highlighted that the main threat to Afghanistan's security and stability stems from terrorism and the terror machine that continues to operate from beyond its borders," Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said.
He said the attack which has led to the injuries and deaths of several valiant Afghan Police personnel as well as deaths of several innocent Afghan civilians including children, must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
However, he asserted that India would not be deterred by this attack and will continue to assist Afghanistan in its reconstruction and development effort.
"This was clearly an attack not just against India but an attack against the efforts to help the Afghan people overcome the tragic hardships they have endured due to several decades of war," he said.
This is the second strike on the Consulate which was earlier attacked in 2007. Indian Embassy in Kabul too came under a deadly attack in 2008 and was again targetted in 2009.
Pakistan-based Haqqani network, described by a former US military chief as the "veritable arm of ISI, has earlier been found to have carried out the attacks.
It is understood that Indian government had inputs about possible terror attacks against its consulates including the one in Jalalabad following which a team, comprising security officials, visited the consulates and the embassy in Kabul last week. Apart from Jalalabad, India has consulates in three more places - Herat, Mazare-i-Sharif and Kandahar.
As per the recent intelligence inputs, apart from Haqqanis, the security threat was also from smaller militant groups based in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, Akbaruddin said India wishes to express its deep gratitude to the brave Afghan security personnel who laid down their lives while protecting the Indian Consulate.
The attack on the Indian consulate in Jalalabad city, bordering Pakistan, in the backdrop of reports that the ISI-backedHaqqani network was again plotting to attack Indian interests in Afghanistan.
Three bombers drove in a car towards the consulate and detonated explosives, killing 12, including eight children, and injuring 24 others. The dead included the bombers.
The explosion, which created a large crater, occurred at a security checkpost just ahead of the consulate and all Indian personnel were safe. There was no major damage to the consulate, official sources said in New Delhi.
The Taliban denied any hand in the attack, in which the ISI-backed Haqqani network is a suspect. The Indian Embassy in Kabul has been attacked by the network twice - in 2008 and 2009 - killing scores of people.
Today's attack took place in the backdrop of threats of possible terror attacks on Indian diplomats and other assets in Afghanistan. A security team was dispatched from Delhi to Kabul last week to assess the threats.
Afghan officials said one attacker detonated the explosives-laden vehicle while the other two, wearing suicide vests, were gunned down by security forces in an exchange of fire while trying to target the Indian Consulate.
Three Afghan policemen were among the injured. Nangarhar province police chief Gen Sharif Amin said most of the victims were children attending religious classes at a nearby mosque.
"At least eight children were killed," Amin was quoted as saying by Tolo News channel.
Amin confirmed that the consulate was the intended target of the blast. Police in Jalalabad were on alert for such an attack, he said.
The attack happened when many people, including women, were queueing up near the consulate to apply for visas. Gunshots were heard in the area for nearly an hour, local media reported.
The explosion shook the neighbourhood and blew out windows of nearby homes. It also damaged the mosque and several houses and shops.
Humayoun Zahir, director of Jalalabad Civil Hospital, said the facility received six bodies and 22 injured from the site, where the Pakistani consulate is also located.
In 2008, a car bomb attack on the Indian Embassy in Kabul killed over 60 people and suicide attacks on two guesthouses in 2010 killed 16 people, including seven Indians.