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Indian aid worker kidnapped in Herat, Afghanistan; Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh holds meetings with Afghan leaders

Monday, 2 June 2014 - 7:22pm IST Updated: Monday, 2 June 2014 - 10:22pm IST | Agency: DNA Webdesk

An Indian has been abducted in the Herat Province of Afghanistan on Monday.

The Indian from Tamil Nadu was working with an educational charity there and was abducted in the afternoon, according to top official sources.

Confirming the abduction, the Spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi said, "Indian national working with an NGO in Herat province of Afghanistan has been kidnapped. Our Mission is pursuing the matter with local authorities."

This incident comes less than ten days from the May 23 attack on the Indian Consulate in Herat, Afghanistan by 4 gunmen.

Four heavily armed attackers, who were carrying rocket-propelled grenades, attacked the Indian Consulate in Afghanistan's Herat province. Following exchange of fire that went on for hours, the four gunment were killed.

On May 29, the Indian mission in Herat had issued an advisory asking its nationals to exercise extreme caution while venturing out.

Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh flew to Herat on Friday and reviewed the situation following the attack on the Indian consulate in the western Afghan city, bordering Iran.

She held meetings in the Afghan capital on Saturday with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, and Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani - the two presidential candidates - who asserted that friendship with India would remain a "top priority" for any new government here.

India has invested in some major infrastructure projects that includes the Salma dam project and the Afghan Parliament building in Kabul.

Afghanistan is experiencing a rise in Taliban attacks as foreign troops plan to withdraw from the war-torn country by the end of the year.

Repeated attacks

Militants have repeatedly attacked Indian targets in Afghanistan. Last August, an assault on the Indian consulate in the eastern city of Jalalabad killed at least nine people, and earlier this year a suicide bomber was gunned down near the consulate in the southern city of Kandahar.

In 2008, suicide bombers attacked the Indian embassy in the capital, Kabul, killing about 50 people and wounding scores. There was another attack on the embassy in 2009.

Security officials in India believe that previous attacks on Indian missions in Afghanistan have been carried out by the Haqqani network, a Taliban and al Qaeda-linked group that has also long had ties with Pakistani intelligence. US officials and India had also accused Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence of organising the 2008 attack in Kabul.

Pakistan has long complained about the number of Indian consulates in Afghan cities, fearful that friendship between India and Afghanistan could leave it isolated, and NATO prepares to withdraw the competition for influence in Kabul is expected to become fiercer.

On this occasion, however, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry was quick to issue a condemnation of the attack on the Indian consulate. "No cause justifies targeting of diplomatic missions. It is a matter of relief that no one from the Consulate staff was hurt," the ministry said in a statement issued in Islamabad.

This is second attack in the last year on Indian Consulate in Afghanistan. In August 2013, 9 killed, 24 injured in explosion near Indian Consulate in Afghanistan's Jalalabad.


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