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Indians were hunted out in Kabul attack: Washington Post

world Updated: Mar 03, 2010 21:39 IST

Pakistani militant group Lashkar-i-Taiba (LeT) orchestrated last week's deadly attack on two Kabul guesthouses with the suicide bombers searching for Indian victims, the Washington Post reported Wednesday citing an Afghan intelligence official.

Investigators had concluded that LeT was involved in the attack based on evidence that it was carried out by a team of suicide bombers who spoke Urdu and who were searching for Indian victims, it said in a report from Kabul citing Afghan intelligence spokesman Sayed Ansari.

"Afghan officials 'very close to the evidence' had determined that one of the bombers involved in Friday's Kabul attack yelled, 'Where is the Indian director?' as he stormed one of guesthouses,"Ansari was quoted as saying.

Others had also sought out Indians, Ansari said.

"This kind of information, where the Indians are, is not the ability of the Afghan Taliban to know," said Ansari as cited by the influential US daily.

The Afghan Taliban had previously asserted responsibility for the assault saying it was targeting foreigners. Six Indian nationals, including two army doctors and an engineer, were among those killed in the attack, as were eight Afghans, an Italian diplomat and a French filmmaker.

The assessment, if true, could signal a departure for the group, blamed for the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, which has long focused on fighting India over Kashmir, the daily said.

The Post said the claim by Afghan intelligence could not be verified Tuesday, and it contradicts the conclusions of other observers. A US military intelligence official cited by the Post said he believed the Haqqani network, a Pakistan-based Afghan militant group, was behind the attack.

Indian officials have said they suspect that the two groups worked in concert to stage the raid.

"Still, the involvement of LeT would have significant implications. It could undermine fragile peace efforts between longtime foes Pakistan and India, whose foreign secretaries met last week," the Post said.

India had previously implicated Pakistan in the 2008 bombing of India's embassy in Kabul, saying Pakistani intelligence had collaborated with militants, it noted.

The Post quoted Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the top US military intelligence official in Afghanistan, as saying that a growing number of the LeT's fighters are streaming into that country's south for combat experience.

"They are aligning with the Taliban," it said citing Mohammad Saad, a retired Pakistani brigadier and security analyst.

Saad said that several members of LeT are training with associates of the Haqqani network in North Waziristan, a Pakistani tribal region bordering Afghanistan, but that language challenges have forced most of them to work alongside Afghan fighters inside Afghanistan.