Gunfight Continues Near India Consulate in Afghanistan

Afghan officials say that several heavily-armed assailants were still holed up in a building just meters from India’s consulate in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif and a gunfight fight was underway with national security forces.

The siege in the Balkh province began Sunday night when a group of gunmen attempted to storm the consulate by firing rockets at the facility before retreating into the nearby building.

Provincial Governor Atta Mohammad Noor, who is personally commanding the clearing operation, told VOA Monday that “at least three attackers” are shooting at Afghan security forces from inside the building.

So far, no-one has claimed responsibility for the consulate attack.

The Taliban is mostly blamed for attacks against local and foreign targets in the country.

The Taliban is mostly blamed for attacks against local and foreign targets in the country.

Taliban says it is not inolved

However, when contacted by VOA, a spokesman for the Islamist insurgency, Zabihullah Mujahid, said that “as of now, our fighters and sources in the city have no knowledge” about the gunmen involved in it and efforts are underway to ascertain the details.

Afghan police have confirmed that five security personnel and three civilians are among at least eight people wounded in the firefight.

Residents in the area told reporters shortly after the standoff began they heard two loud explosions followed by bursts of automatic gunfire. “We are under fire,” Barjabashi Sardar, India’s Consul General in Mazar-e-Sharif, told the Indian media, adding “everybody is safe” because nobody could enter the consulate.

The attack on the Indian consulate is the latest in a series of assaults on India’s diplomatic facilities in Afghanistan.

Suicide bombers attacked India’s consulates in the Afghan city of Herat in 2014 and in the eastern city of Jalalabad bordering Pakistan in 2013.

Kabul attack

Meanwhile, Afghan officials say a powerful car bomb explosion near Kabul’s international airport Monday evening wounded at least 19 people.

A health ministry spokesman, Mohammad Ismail Kawasi, told VOA that children and women are among the victims brought to government hospitals from the site of the attack.

The blast occurred near the eastern entrance of the airport which is dedicated for military purposes and is also used by NATO forces, said interior ministry officials.

The attack happened hours after a suicide bomber struck a police security post in the same area in his bid to target a foreign military convoy, Kabul police told reporters, adding only the bomber was killed in that attack and a vehicle in the convoy was slightly damaged.

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