Monday, 30th October 2017

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Indian dies in Afghan suicide blast

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By SUJAN DUTTA in Delhi
  • Published 3.01.08
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New Delhi, Jan. 3: A police inspector and possibly another security personnel from India were among seven persons killed by a suspected suicide bomber in Afghanistan’s Nimroz province this afternoon.

Six other Indians were “critically injured”. An Afghan official said an Indian engineer was also killed but an external affairs ministry statement made no such mention.

The deaths add to the list of casualties from India and push a beleaguered but strategic road project sponsored by Delhi deeper into uncertainty.

Inspector Manoj Kumar of the Indo Tibetan Border Police is the fourth Indian in four years to be killed by suspected Taliban attackers.

The injured Indians — all from the ITBP — were identified as Umakant, Ragesh, Deshishu, Harbans Lal, Prakash Chand and Gajender.

The Indian foreign ministry statement said “we understand that at least two of our security personnel have been killed” but did not name either.

Reuters quoted Nimroz province governor Ghulam Dastagir Azad as saying: “Six Afghan police and an Indian engineer have been killed.” Till late tonight, the information on the engineer could not be verified.

Sources said Kumar, a member of a Quick Reaction Team (QRT) of the ITBP, was sent to Afghanistan last year after security was beefed up for the Indian Border Roads Organisation’s Project Zaranj.

On completion, the 219km Zaranj-Delaram Road project will allow Indian equipment to be transported across Afghanistan.

In the absence of transit rights from Pakistan, the Indian government is dependent on the Iranian port of Chabahar that the road connects with the “Garland Highway” that circumscribes central Afghanistan.

The QRT was sent from the project headquarters at Gurguri after an improvised explosive device blasted the road that a convoy of Indian and Afghan workers and engineers were taking.

The workers informed their headquarters in Gurguri, 116km away, over radio. The project headquarters asked the QRT to go to the spot and escort the convoy.

At the site, a second blast went off, killing Kumar and the others around 16.45 local time, the general manager of the project, Brigadier Babu, told The Telegraph over the phone from Zaranj.

Brigadier Babu said the Afghan government had been requested for an aircraft to take the injured to a hospital in Kabul. For the time being, they have been admitted to a Zaranj hospital.