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India was alerted about Kabul attack

Sources reveal that Indian authorities had received a series of intelligence alerts about an imminent terror strike against Indian facilities in Afghanistan.

india Updated: Jul 10, 2008 12:43 IST

Indian authorities had received a series of intelligence alerts - the most serious one as late as June 23 - about an imminent terror strike against Indian facilities in Afghanistan and had finished upgrading security barriers around the embassy just last week that probably prevented a more damaging attack, according to knowledgeable sources. <b1>

With the Afghan interior ministry alluding to Pakistani involvement in the attack - that the Pakistan government has rejected - New Delhi is examining these charges before it can take it up with Islamabad officially.

“We had specific information that terrorists were planning attacks on Indian targets,” confirmed a senior Indian official when specifically asked about it. But the official declined to give any more information, saying the matter was very sensitive at the moment and needed to be carefully looked into before any details could be divulged.

Sources said the embassy was put on high alert for the last few weeks and there would have much more damage - and more casualties perhaps - if alert security guards at the embassy gate had not suspected something about the driver of the second car that had tailed the Indian embassy car carrying two Indian diplomats and had tried to sneak the vehicle into the embassy building behind it.

What also absorbed a considerable amount of the attack shock was the hexa-barrier that was erected around the embassy on all sides, without which probably the damage to the embassy building would have been more intense.

There is no doubt that the government is going to take this attack - that happened even as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was flying to Japan - very, very seriously. At latest count from Kabul, the attack killed 54 people, including four Indians, and injured about 140, including many whose condition remains precarious.

Two Indian diplomats, defence attaché Brig R.D. Mehta and counsellor V. Venkat Rao, died in the attack besides two personnel of the paramilitary Indo-Tibetan Border Police.

Leaders of almost all the leading countries that Manmohan Singh met in Sapporo and Toyako, the venue of the G8 summit, expressed strong condemnation of the attack that was targeted at India and, more so, perhaps for its strong involvement in Afghanistan's reconstruction and revival.

The fact that the Afghan Taliban, that has always been hostile to India, has disowned the attack is significant, say the sources. The needle of suspicion, say the sources, then naturally falls on “elements in Pakistan” that are not happy with what India is doing there in terms of various infrastructural and developments projects in the country that are worth an estimated $850 million in pledges.

After the dubious truce that Pakistan authorities have reached in the faction-ridden tribal belt bordering Afghanistan, the ground situation in Afghanistan has apparently worsened with unchecked cross-border attacks, say the sources.

Indian authorities, meanwhile, are considering moving the embassy from its present damaged premises. A new and more secure embassy could start functioning within a year, say authorities here.