India has issued a high security alert for its missions and other interests in Afghanistan in the wake of the killing of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Though the Indian embassy in Kabul and its consulates in Kandahar, Jalalabad, Mazar-e-Sharif and Herat are always facing serious threat, Osama’s killing in Abbottabad on Monday has increased the level of danger Indian establishments and its people face, sources said. Security has been tightened in view of a heightened threat from Taliban and other terror groups which may carry out a wave of attacks following the killing of Osama.
Sources said intelligence inputs suggested that apart from its missions, other reconstruction projects being carried out by Indians could be targeted by Haqqani faction of Taliban or terrorist groups based in Pakistan like Lashkhar-e-Taiba, which has been expanding its base in Afghanistan. The terrorists could launch a wave of attacks, involving explosion of car-bombs followed by assault by gunmen, the sources said, quoting intelligence inputs. There are nearly 4,000 Indians deployed in various projects such as medical facilities, railway and road construction.
Nearly 200 Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel, who are guarding the embassy, that has already been targeted twice since 2008, and Indian nationals working on developmental projects, have been alerted of the possibility of the attacks. The government has ordered maximum security for all of them, the sources said. New Delhi has also requested Kabul to deploy adequate Afghan security personnel in the Indian missions as well as other assets. The staff of the embassy and Indians working on developmental projects have been advised to exercise caution, restrict their movements to the minimum and maintain secrecy.
On February 26, 2010, two hotels in Kabul where Indians engaged in developmental and reconstruction works in that country were targeted by terrorists.
The terror attack was on the pattern of the 26/11 Mumbai carnage, with six to eight terrorists targeting the hotels and hunting for victims during the strike in which two major-rank officers of the army were among the six Indians killed and 10 others, including five army officers, injured.
The attack was the fourth on Indian interests in Afghanistan since July 2008 when a car laden with about 100 kg of explosives was blown up at the gate of Indian Embassy, killing 60 people, including four Indians — a Brigadier-rank officer, a senior IFS officer and two ITBP personnel. In October 2009, terrorists struck again at the embassy, carrying out a car bomb explosion near its outer wall and killing 17 people. Subsequently, in December 2009, a hotel housing staff of an Indian IT company was targeted. Eight people were killed and two IT executives, an Indian cook and a cleaner were among those injured.