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Indian consulate in Afghanistan attacked, ITBP saves the day for Modi

New Delhi, May 23 (PTI): Prime Minister-elect Narendra Modi on Friday condemned the attack by unidentified gunmen on the Indian consulate in Afghanistan’s Herat and said he is monitoring the situation.

Modi said he spoke to Indian Ambassador in Afghanistan Amar Sinha following the attack on Friday morning.

“I condemn the attack on our consulate in Herat, Afghanistan. Closely monitoring the situation. I have spoken to the Ambassador_as well,” he tweeted.

Gunmen armed with heavy weapons including rocket-propelled grenades launched a pre-dawn assault on the consulate during which three attackers were killed. All the diplomatic staff were safe.

India’s Ambassador to Afghanistan, Amar Sinha, said three of the four gunmen were killed, one by Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) commandos guarding the consulate and two by Afghan police, who form the outer perimeter.

He said there were nine Indians in the mission apart from local Afghans.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Security officials in India believe that previous attacks on Indian missions in Afghanistan have been carried out by the Haqqani network, an al Qaeda-linked group that has also long had ties with Pakistan's military intelligence.

US officials and India had also accused Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence of organising the 2008 attack in Kabul.

The Herat mission was considered one of India's safest in Afghanistan compared with Jalalabad in the east, which was attacked last year, and Kandahar in the south.

In 2008, suicide bombers attacked the Indian consulate in the capital, Kabul, killing about 50 people and wounding scores.

India has invested in some major infrastructure projects in Afghanistan like Salma hydroelectric dam in Herat province and the Afghan parliament building in Kabul. India's development assistance programme for Afghanistan is $2 billion, making it the leading donor nation among all regional countries.

The attack underscored a worrying security picture as Afghanistan prepares to take over from foreign combat troops after more than 12 years of war against a Taliban insurgency and prepares for a presidential election run-off next month.