Tuesday March 20, 2018
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Yet another attack on Indian Consulate in Afghan city of Jalalabad

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A suicide attack targeted India’s diplomatic compound in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad on Wednesday, with explosions and gunfire rattling the area.

A suicide car bomber detonated an explosives-filled vehicle outside the entrance gates of the Indian consulate compound at about noon (local time), Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

Smaller explosions and gunfire followed as other militants attempted to storm into the compound after the initial blast.

RFE/RL’s correspondent reported seeing the bodies of four dead gunmen on the ground outside the compound walls after their battle with security forces ended.

Authorities said later that five gunmen and the suicide car bomber were killed.

They said two civilians were killed in the violence and 19 were injured.

In New Delhi, Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said the “consulate has been targeted but everyone is safe” within the compound, which is in a neighborhood that also includes diplomatic offices of other countries.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but both the Taliban and rival Islamic State (IS) militants have a strong presence in the area.

In fact, IS militants have had a growing presence in Nangarhar province during the past year and are challenging the Taliban there.

The diplomatic quarter in Jalalabad, the capital of the province, has been repeatedly attacked in recent months.

In January, IS militants claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on Pakistan’s consulate in Jalalabad – the first major IS attack in the city.

India helped overthrow the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and is the largest regional provider of humanitarian and reconstruction aid to Afghanistan.

But New Delhi’s presence in Afghanistan has irked Islamabad, which has previously alleged that India’s intelligence agency works undercover in the country to undermine Pakistan.

India’s embassy in Kabul was targeted by a suicide car bomber in July 2008 in an attack that killed 58 people.

U.S. intelligence officials suggested that Pakistan’s ISI intelligence agency played a role in the attack – an allegation that Islamabad strongly denies.

Wednesday’s attack in Jalalabad came as U.S. Army Gen. John Nicholson formally took over command of NATO-led coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Nicholson replaced the outgoing Gen. John Campbell, who told reporters in Kabul that there “is still much work to be done” in Afghanistan.

Campbell said Afghan security forces have “come far, but they still need” NATO’s help.

Delegates from Afghanistan, China, the United States, and Pakistan said after meeting in Kabul last week that direct peace talks between the Taliban and the government in Kabul were expected to start in Islamabad during the first week of March.

But since that announcement, Taliban militants have increased their attacks across Afghanistan — prompting President Ashraf Ghani to say that his government would not negotiate with extremists who kill innocent Afghan civilians.

Published with permission from BenarNews.

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Iran invites Pakistan to join Chabahar project with India

India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a trilateral agreement in 2016

Chabahar Port is of great international significance in terms of trade, especially for India. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port is of great international significance in terms of trade, especially for India. Wikimedia Commons
  • Iran has invited Pakistan to join Chabahar port project
  • It is a very crucial port of great importance
  • India, Iran and Afghanistan have already signed a trilateral agreement in 2016

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has invited Pakistan to participate in the Chabahar Port project that connects India to Afghanistan, Central Asia and Eastern Europe, a leading Pakistani daily reported on Tuesday.

Chabahar Port is built and operated by India. Wikimedia Commons

The move may be seen as Zarif’s bid to allay concerns here over the Indian involvement in the Iranian port, Dawn online reported. The Iranian minister also, meanwhile, extended the invitation to China.

“We offered to participate in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). We have also offered Pakistan and China to participate in Chahbahar,” Zarif, who is on a three-day visit to Pakistan, said while delivering a lecture at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) on Monday, according to the daily.

India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a trilateral agreement in 2016 to jointly develop the Chabahar port, opening a new strategic transit route between the three nations and other Central Asian nations, bypassing Pakistan. In November 2017, India delievered the first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan through the Chabahar Port.

Also Read: All You Need To Know About India’s Strategic Chabahar Port

Zarif had earlier held bilateral talks with his Pakistani counterpart Khawaja Asif and addressed a trade conference. The visiting Foreign Minister is being accompanied by a large trade delegation from Iran.

He also said that Gwadar Port and Chabahar Port needed to be linked through sea and land routes for development of deprived Eastern and South-eastern Iran and South Western Pakistan. “We are taking measures to do that and there is an open invitation to Pakistan to participate in that,” Zarif said.

Chabahar Port will make India's trade with Afghanistan easier. Wikimedia Commons
Chabahar Port will make India’s trade with Afghanistan easier. Wikimedia Commons

He also said that the Chabahar port project was not meant to “encircle Pakistan … strangulate anybody”, adding that Iran would not allow anybody to hurt Pakistan from its territory, much like Pakistan would not allow its soil to be used against Iran.

Zarif likened Iran’s relations with India to Pakistan’s ties with Saudi Arabia. “Our relations with India, just like Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia, are not against Islamabad as we understand Pakistan’s relations with Saudi Arabia are not against Iran.” IANS