Afghan and US officials took opposing views on the nature of last week’s terrorist attack in Kabul that killed 16 people dead, nine of them Indians. Afghan intelligence spokesman Sayed Ansari said on Tuesday that the attacks, which targeted two guesthouses, was orchestrated by Lashkar-e-Tayyeba.
The US Special Envoy for Afghanistan-Pakistan Richard Holbrooke, however,said in Washington, “I don’t accept the fact that this was an attack on an Indian facility like the (Indian) embassy. They were foreigners, non-Indian foreigners hurt.”
Ansari said the attackers had spoken in Urdu. He said 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 a guesthouse known to be used largely by Indian military and aid workers. 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,” Ansari said.
This was disputed by senior Western diplomats in New Delhi who said, “The Taliban know where all foreigners in Kabul are.” Afghan intelligence has informed their Indian counterparts that they have other leads pointing to a Lashkar role. “They believe the signature of the attack was definitely not Taliban,” said a source.
US military intelligence has attributed the attack to the Haqqani faction of the Taliban — blamed for the two previous attacks on the Indian embassy in Kabul. The Taliban claimed responsibility for last week’s attacks.
Former RAW Pakistan analyst, B. Raman, says the first Indian embassy attack in Kabul was Haqqani, the second a Haqqani-Lashkar joint venture and the latest may have been a full-fledged Lashkar operation.