Blast at Indian Embassy in Kabul kills 41: PM horrified

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Kabul, Jul 7 (UNI) A massive suicide bomb attack struck the Indian Embassy here today, killing at least 41 people, including two senior Indian diplomats, and injuring around 140 others.

India's Defence Attache Brig R D Mehta and Counsellor V V Rao were among the five personnel of the Indian Mission staff killed in the attack, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said in New Delhi.

Two Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel, Roop Singh and Ajai Pathania, and an Afghan national working with the embassy, Niyamatullah, were also killed in the attack, he added.

''I am horrified to know of the deaths of our personnel in the dastardly terrorist attack on our embassy in Kabul. The loss of these precious Indian and Afghan lives in the service of their country must be condemned in the strongest possible terms,'' Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on board Air India One enroute to Toyako, Japan, to attend the 34th G8 summit.

''We have lost Indians who were helping their Afghan brothers rebuild their lives and country. That endeavour must continue with renewed commitment...We will do all that we can to help them (the families) bear their loss and grief that is our pledge,'' Dr Singh said.

A high-level team led by Mr Nalin Surie. a senior official of the External Affairs Ministry, is being rushed to Kabul, the External Affairs Minister told a hurriedly-called press conference.

Earlier, immediately after the incident, the External Affairs Minister convened an emergency meeting with Defence Minister A K Antony and senior officials of the External Affairs and Defence Ministries to discuss the matter arising out of the situation.

''It is with very great regret and a heavy heart that I have to announce that in the terrorist attack on our Mission in Kabul this morning, we have lost five of our personnel. Brig. RD Mehta, Defence Attache, V V Rao, Counsellor and Ajai Pathaniya and Roop Singh, both from the ITBP security contingent, were killed in the attack. One of our Afghan staff members Niamatullah was also killed in the attack...A special team under the leadership of Secretary (West) Nalin Suri will be flying to Kabul immediately to attend to this emergency situation concerning our Mission,'' the External Affairs Minister said.

The External Affairs Minister, while strongly ... picking up from para seven, line one of DF13, BLAST-AFGHAN-SIXTH LEAD INDIAN EMBASSY.

UNI XC RP AS2044

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