Heavy gunfire still continues near the Indian mission in Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan. Late on Sunday evening, militants attacked the Indian mission and attempted to enter it. According to latest reports, all Indian mission staff are said to be safe.
“Heavy fighting going on,” said Amar Sinha, India’s Ambassador to Afghanistan on Monday morning. He also added that Atta Muhammad Noor, the Governor of Balkh province was personally monitoring the situation.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the telephone to brief him on attack.
Special forces are said to be carrying out clearing operations near the Indian mission in Mazar-i-Sharif. India’s Indo-Tibetan Border Police Force (ITBP) and Afghan security personnel are jointly engaged in a gunbattle with at least two unidentified attackers, who attempted to strike the heavily guarded Indian consulate.
Sources said the joint security forces were retaliating intermittent gunfire which came from a building near the consulate. It is believed that at least 2-3 attackers are still holed up in a small house near the Indian mission.
“Two attackers are believed to be killed after security forces engaged them,” sources revealed.
On Sunday night, explosions and heavy gunfire shots were heard when about 4-5 militants attempted to storm into the Indian diplomatic mission.
The firing which began at 9.15 pm IST on Sunday, is still on. Officials said that the gunmen had tried to enter the consulate from its rear end and fired an RPG round which got mis-directed and hit a building about 100 metres away from the Indian Consulate.
Reports say that at least 4-5 rocket rounds had been fired towards the Indian complex but none of them hit the building. The forces have been asked to ensure zero movement outside the consulate.
“The area is completely blocked by our forces,” said Shir Jan Durrani, a police spokesman in Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of the province of Balkh.
“We are cautiously conducting our clearance operation to avoid any civilian casualties,” he added.
So far no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Even as the gunbattle in Mazar-i-Sharif continued, another suicide bomber blew himself up very close to the airport in Kabul.
“A bomber on foot detonated his suicide vest… near Kabul airport. There is no immediate information on casualties,” Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish told AFP.
The attack at the Indian mission in Mazar-i-Sharif is taking place at the same time when another gunbattle is being played out at an Indian Air Force base in Pathankot in Punjab.
The Mazar-i-Sharif attack also comes just a week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Kabul on a brief visit on December 25, during which he inaugurated the new Afghan Parliament building built by India.
(With inputs from PTI)