Car-borne suicide bombers blew up their explosives-packed vehicle near the Indian consulate in Afghanistan's Jalalabad city on Saturday, killing at least eight children and wounding 21 civilians on the spot.
All the consulate staff members are safe. No group has claimed the responsibility for the attack so far.
The deafening explosion took place at around 10 am about 50 metres away from the consulate near a mosque, 120-km east of the Afghan capital of Kabul, provincial police chief Sharifullah Amin said.
Two of the attackers wearing vests laden with explosives got out of the car and were immediately fired upon by the police., he said.
"MEA (the minister of external affairs) is in touch with the officials. All officials are safe," tweeted Syed Akbaruddin, the spokesperson of the ministry of external affairs in New Delhi.
Explosion in front of India's Consulate in Jalalabad. MEA in touch with officials. All officials are safe.— Syed Akbaruddin (@AkbarMEA) August 3, 2013
Following explosion in front of India's Consulate in Jalalabad (Afghanistan)MEA in touch with Consulate. All officials safe. Situation fluid— Syed Akbaruddin (@AkbarMEA) August 3, 2013
Afghanistan's main insurgent group, the Taliban, denied in a text message that it had carried out the attack. Smaller militant groups based in Pakistan have targeted Indian interests in Afghanistan in the past.
Hashimi said the attack began when three men in a car approached the checkpoint. Two of the men got out of the car wearing vests rigged with explosives and a police guard immediately opened fire on them, Hashimi said. He added that the third man then detonated a large bomb located inside the car.
India, which has spent more than two billion dollars of aid in Afghanistan since the Taliban regime fell in 2001, has been previously targeted in the war-torn country.
The attack came as the US planned to close its embassies in the Muslim world for the weekend due to an al Qaeda threat.
Earlier suicide attacks on Indian embassy in Kabul
July 2, 2007: About 58 people were killed and 141 injured in a suicide bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul. The suicide car bomb exploded near the gates. Pakistan's ISI was suspected behind the attack.
In 2008, a car bomb attack on the Indian embassy compound killed more than 60 people and, in 2010, suicide attacks on two guesthouses killed at least 16 people including seven Indians.
October 8, 2009: At least 17 people were killed and 63 hurt in a suicide bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul. The Taliban had claimed the responsibility within hours of making the attack.
In 2010, two Kabul guest houses popular among Indians were attacked, killing more than six Indians. India blamed that attack on the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.
(With PTI and AFP inputs)