India says consulate in western Afghanistan attacked

NEW DELHI- Gunmen launched a pre-dawn attack on India’s consulate in the main western Afghan city of Herat Friday before being repelled by security forces, the foreign ministry in New Delhi said.

While there were no immediate reports of casualties among staff at the mission, the attack underlined the precarious security situation in Afghanistan ahead of a presidential election run-off next month.

India has previously accused Pakistan’s security services of being behind attacks on Indian targets in Afghanistan, and the assault comes only days after incoming prime minister Narendra Modi invited Pakistan’s premier Nawaz Sharif to his inauguration ceremony in Delhi next Monday.

“Earlier this morning, the Indian consulate in Herat was attacked,” foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin told the news channel NDTV.

“One gunman was shot by the ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) while they were trying to breach the consulate,” he said, adding that Indian and Afghan security forces had been “successful in rebutting this attack”.

However, according to the Press Trust of India, police killed two of the attackers as one continued to fire on security forces.

Three gunmen armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades opened fire on the consulate from a nearby home around 3.30am (2300 GMT Thursday) and continued the attack for several hours, NDTV’s website said.