Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Moscow vows to 'wipe out' those behind bombings

Russian leaders vowed to avenge the twin rush-hour suicide bombings on packed metro trains in Moscow that killed at least 38 people on Monday.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin vowed those behind the attacks would be destroyed as authorities pointed the finger at militants from the Northern Caucasus and perhaps beyond for the deadliest attack in Moscow in years.

The first explosion shortly before 8:00 am (0400 GMT) ripped through a train that had stopped in the Lubyanka station just below the headquarters of Russia’s FSB security service, the successor to the Soviet KGB.

About 40 minutes later, a second explosion went off in a carriage of a train on the platform at the Park Kultury metro station, named after Moscow’s iconic Gorky Park.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev visited the Lubyanka metro station to lay a wreath of red roses on the platform, and vowed we will find and wipe out those behind the blasts, calling them wild beasts

Rescuers grimly hauled out body bags from the depths of the Moscow metro, one of the world’s biggest transit systems with an average of more than 6.5 million passengers every day, an AFP correspondent saw.

Video shot with mobile phones and aired on state television showed dazed passengers holding their heads in despair and corpses strewn on the ground as dust and smoke swirled through the tunnel.

Officials said the attacks were carried out by women wearing belts packed with explosives, marking a return of the so-called Black Widows who terrorized Moscow a decade ago with a string of attacks.

Body parts of two terrorists female suicide bombers were found at the scenes of the blasts, FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov said in a televised meeting at the Kremlin.

According to preliminary information, these people had links to places of residence in the Northern Caucasus, he added.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that foreign involvement in the attacks had not been ruled out.

We all know very well that clandestine terrorists are very active on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Interfax news agency quoted Lavrov as saying in Canada at a Group of Eight ministers meeting.

We know that several attacks have been prepared there, to be carried out not only in Afghanistan, but also in other countries. Sometimes, these journeys go as far as the (Russian) Caucasus.

Video surveillance footage has allowed investigators to establish the bombers identities; a security source told Interfax, as well as those of two other women who accompanied the attackers to the metro.

The two women and a man, another possible accomplice, are being sought by police, the source said.

Bortnikov said the bombers belts were packed with the explosive hexogen equivalent to several kilograms (pounds) of TNT and metal shrapnel.

Emergency officials said the death toll had reached 38, not including the bombers. Another 64 people were wounded.

The injured included a woman from the Philippines and two women from Malaysia who were released from hospital after treatment.

Putin who cut short a visit to Siberia to return to Moscow, where he visited survivors in hospital warned earlier in the day that law enforcement agencies will do everything to find and punish the criminals.... The terrorists will be destroyed.

Western leaders offered their condolences to Russia, and US President Barack Obama called Medvedev to pledge Washington would help bring to justice those who undertook this attack.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the so-called Caucasus Emirate group led by Chechen militant Doku Umarov has repeatedly warned in recent months it was planning to strike the capital.

Umaro’s group claimed responsibility for last November bombing of a passenger train that killed 28 people.

The Moscow city government declared Tuesday a day of mourning.

Monday’s explosions were the deadliest suicide attacks in Moscow since 2004 when the bombing of a metro train killed 41, part of a string of attacks carried out by Chechen militants.

Chechnya has seen rising violence in recent months as pro-Kremlin regional authorities seek to clamp down on an Islamist insurgency that has also spread to the neighboring majority-Muslim regions of Ingushetia and Dagestan.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Obama Makes a Surprise Visit to Afghanistan

Mr. Obama’s visit was shrouded in secrecy and lasted only a few hours, but included a boisterous pep rally with American troops. It was his first trip as president to the scene of an eight-year-old war he has stamped as his own.

While Mr. Obama said “the American people are encouraged by the progress that has been made,” as he stood beside Mr. Karzai at the heavily fortified presidential palace, Mr. Obama also emphasized that work remained to be done on the governance issues that have frustrated American officials over the past year. “We also want to continue to make progress on the civilian process,” Mr. Obama said. He mentioned several areas, including anticorruption efforts and the rule of law.

The trip highlighted how far the administration believes the Afghan government has to go to make good on promises that Mr. Karzai has made on governance and even reintegration with certain reconcilable members of the Taliban insurgency.

The language used by Mr. Obama and Mr. Karzai in their private discussions was not disclosed. But Gen. James L. Jones, the national security adviser, told reporters on Air Force One en route to Afghanistan that the administration wanted Mr. Karzai to “understand that in his second term, there are certain things that have not been paid attention to, almost since Day 1.”

General Jones said that the Afghan president “needs to be seized with how important” the issue of corruption, in particular, is for American officials.

The visit capped a high-profile week for Mr. Obama, in which he achieved a singular victory domestically — signing health care legislation — and reached an arms control agreement with Russia that calls for the two nuclear powers to slash their nuclear arsenals to the lowest levels in half a century.

Mr. Obama’s visit to Afghanistan came against a backdrop of tension between Mr. Karzai and the Americans that have not substantially abated since Mr. Karzai was declared the winner of an election tainted by fraud. In the wake of last August’s election, the United Nations and the United States, as well as other NATO countries, demanded that Mr. Karzai make major overhauls in the electoral system, tacitly indicating that they might withhold money for the next election if they did not see changes.

Mr. Karzai recently overhauled the Afghan election complaint commission, but made it less neutral by claiming the right to appoint all five members. Currently, three of the members are appointed by the United Nations. The move infuriated some Western diplomats here who saw it as almost a taunt.

Further aggravating tensions was a conference in London at the end of January at which corruption was a major topic and Western officials again made clear that they felt Mr. Karzai had fallen short. Recently, he has strengthened the anticorruption commission, and the attorney general appears to be moving forward on a handful of high-profile cases involving former government figures. Corruption remains pervasive, however, and Mr. Karzai has not used his position as a bully pulpit to change the culture.

“He’s slipping away from the West,” said a senior European diplomat in Kabul.

Mr. Karzai warmly received one of America’s most vocal adversaries, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, on an official visit to Kabul in early March. Mr. Karzai met with him again this past weekend in Tehran, when the two celebrated the Afghan and Iranian New Year together.

Mr. Karzai returned to Kabul only hours before Mr. Obama landed.

Last week, Mr. Karzai made a three-day trip to China, a country that is making economic investments in Afghanistan, notably in its copper reserves, taking advantage of the hard-won and expensive security efforts of the United States and other Western nations.

Air Force One landed at nighttime at Bagram Air Base after a 13-hour nonstop flight, for a visit kept secret for security reasons. Mr. Obama quickly boarded a helicopter for the trip to Kabul.

White House officials did not give advance notice of the trip, and even went as far as to inform reporters that Mr. Obama would be spending the weekend at Camp David with his family. In fact, the president’s trip occurred during the Afghan night, and he was flying back to Washington before most Afghans awakened Monday morning.

Besides General Jones, Mr. Obama was accompanied by Rahm Emanuel, his chief of staff, and a number of other officials from the White House and the Defense Department.

Mr. Obama also met with some of the tens of thousands of American troops who have been sent to Afghanistan since he took office. His visit with the troops was particularly significant because American combat casualties in Afghanistan have risen sharply while he has been commander in chief.

In the first three months of 2010, at least 83 American service personnel have died in Afghanistan, versus 43 in the first three months of 2009, according to icasualties.org, a database of casualties in the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pakistan terror groups threat to all nations

Osama Bin Laden threat to U.S. over 9/11 plotter

Osama bin Laden threatened in a new message released on Thursday to kill any Americans Al-Qaida captures if the U.S. executes the self-professed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks or other Al-Qaeda suspects.

In the 74-second audiotape aired on Al-Jazeera television, the Al-Qaeda leader explicitly mentions Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who was captured in Pakistan in 2003. He is the most senior Al-Qaeda operative in U.S. custody and is detained at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In 2008, the U.S. charged Mohammed with murder and war crimes in connection with the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. Pentagon officials have said they will seek the death penalty for him. Four of his fellow plotters are also in custody.

“The White House has expressed its desire to execute them. The day America makes that decision will be the day it has issued a death sentence for any one of you that is taken captive,” said Osama, addressing Americans.

A U.S. counterterrorism official said it is absurd for Al-Qaeda to suggest it is going to start treating captives badly.

“They may have forgotten Danny Pearl and all the others they've slaughtered, but we haven't,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss classified information.

After his March 2003 capture in Pakistan, Mohammed described himself as the architect of numerous terrorism plots and even claimed that “with my blessed right hand,”

Pakistan terror groups threat to all nations

India on Thursday asked Islamabad’s “friends”, particularly the

US and the UK to persuade it to close terror malls operating
on the Pakistani soil. Home minister P Chidambaram, who gave vent to New Delhi’s irritation with Washington’s approach to terrorism emanating from Pakistan, said that no country will be safe if stern action was not taken against groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba.

“No country is truly safe.... Don’t think that India alone is under threat. Every country is under threat from these groups and the Lashkar-e-Taiba today is like the al-Qaeda, a multi-country group.” That Lashkar has emerged as an important member of a global jihadi network is being conceded by the US.

In an interview to the BBC, Mr. Chidambaram said it would be “naive” for Western countries to think that only India faces the threat from Pakistan-based terrorists. “Once you allow these terror groups to train, recruit and be able to build capacity to strike, they can strike in India, they can strike in UK, they can strike in Denmark as they were planning out of the Karachi Project,” he said.

The home minister also said that the civilian government in Pakistan has not moved towards reining in the ISI or the terror groups that are backed by it. “If there is a truly civilian government in Pakistan which can rein in the ISI and direct the army and the ISI to move in and dismantle their terror infrastructure. The camps must be closed. Training must come to an end,” he said.

To a question whether he has seen any movement in that direction in Pakistan, Mr. Chidambaram replied in the negative. “Nothing so far,” he said. Asked what could persuade Pakistan to do that, he said, “The UK, the US knows the answer to that question better. Certainly, we have not been able to persuade Pakistan. It is Pakistan’s friends, mutual friends, who would have to bring pressure on Pakistan.”

On the Pune attack, the minister said there were intelligence reports about jihadis targeting the town. “Pune was a case where it slipped through the cracks. Pune was a target. There was specific intelligence shared by the Central government with the Maharashtra police and the government. The area, Koregaon Park, was under a security cover.

Advisory was given to German Bakery and its manager’s acknowledged the advisory on every single occasion but they did nothing. They did not even take the minimum security precautions. So, it is an unfortunate case that I would say slipped through the cracks. As I said in Parliament, it’s a blot. But the lesson is that when there is intelligence, pointed intelligence and advisories are issued, people must cooperate. Shops, establishments, hotels, malls must take minimal security precautions,” he said.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New face of terror in US -'Jihad Jane'

The "war on terrorism" just got a little more complicated with the indictment of an average white American female dubbed "Jihad Jane" on charges of plotting with Islamic radicals, bringing even the so-called soccer moms under the radar.

Colleen LaRose, 46, a Pennsylvania native, has been charged with trying to recruit Islamic fighters and plotting to assassinate a Swedish cartoonist who made fun of Prophet Muhammad, according to a federal indictment unsealed on Tuesday.

What is striking about the case is that Colleen LaRose, who called herself Fatima La Rose, is a regular workaday housewife. Blonde and green-eyed, she would have easily slipped under scrutiny that typically focuses on non-whites.

In fact, that is precisely what she and her jihadi consorts whom she reached out to over the internet banked on as they discussed plans to kill a Swedish cartoonist.

In 2008, LaRose allegedly posted a video on You Tube calling herself Jihad Jane and stating she was "desperate to do something somehow to help" ease the suffering of Muslims, a move that attracted the attention of law-enforcement authorities.

According to the indictment, in email exchanges with five unindicted and unnamed co-conspirators in South Asia, Eastern and Western Europe, LaRose allegedly agreed to recruit people for jihad, to raise money for fighters. She also agreed to one jihadist's request to marry him to enable him to get inside Europe.

LaRose stated "that her physical appearance would allow her to 'blend in with many people' which 'may be a way to achieve what is in my heart,'" the indictment said.

This is the first time a white American female has signed up for jihad. According to the indictment, in March 2009, shortly before she made the You Tube video, LaRose allegedly received a directive from her jihadist contacts to "go to Sweden... find location of (resident of Sweden)... and kill him... this is what i say to u". The target was identified as Lars Vilks, a cartoonist who had drawn Prophet Muhammad with the body of a dog.

LaRose was instructed to kill Vilks in a way that would frighten "the whole Kufar (non-believer) world." She was arrested in October 2009 but the case was kept under seal as authorities pursued leads to track down her jihadist contacts.

The indictment was unsealed on Tuesday after the arrest of seven Muslims in Ireland, in a case that was said to connect "Jihad Jane" to the plot to kill Vilks.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Brain behind Bali blasts killed, says Indonesia

Indonesian counter-terrorism forces on Tuesday killed a man who was believed to have been one of the masterminds of the 2002 Bali bombings during a raid in the capital Jakarta, police and reports said.

The man was among three people killed in two raids on the city's outskirts. Police did not disclose the identities of the three, saying "a forensic examination was still being carried out".

But a police source said one was believed to be Dulmatin, a leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) militant group and an al-Qaida-trained bomb maker with a US bounty of $10 million on his head.

It is not the first report of his death. In 2008, Philippine military officials said they believed Dulmatin's body had been exhumed on the island of Tawi-tawi. The security ministry's counter-terrorism chief, Ansyaad Mbai, said: "If it's true that it's him, we will be very grateful that the most wanted terrorist has been killed in Pamulang. It will be a big relief to us."

National police spokesman Edward Aritonang said one of the three was killed in a gunfight with counter-terrorism police at an internet cafe in Pamulang, west of the capital. Witnesses later saw a body bag taken from the cafe into an ambulance.

Believed to be in his late 30s, Dulmatin is accused of helping JI plan and carry out the Bali bombings, which killed 202 people on the Indonesian resort island, most of them foreign tourists.

JI is a Southeast Asian extremist group inspired by al-Qaida. Its ultimate goal is to unite Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore and southern Philippines into a fundamentalist Islamic state.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Ahmadinejad hunkers down with Karzai

On Monday, Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad was due to visit Afghanistan on a short trip with a heavy agenda of issues concerning regional security and a drug trafficking problem that is growing despite advances against Afghan insurgents in Helmand province, the world's opium capital.

On the eve of his trip, Ahmadinejad once again captured headlines by describing the 9/11 attacks in New York and Washington as a "big lie" that was "intended to serve as a pretext for fighting terrorism and setting the grounds for sending troops to Afghanistan". His comment, directed at a regional audience, was clearly geared to one of Iran's main foreign policy goals - the removal of foreign forces in neighboring countries.

Thus, while relatively orderly parliamentary elections in Iraq favor
that goal by increasing the likelihood of the US's military departure in 2011, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) offensive in Helmand is likely to be replicated soon in Kandahar and other provinces. Given that counter-insurgency and counter-narcotics are two sides of the same coin, the offensive may make a major difference to Afghanistan's production of raw opium. While some opium is converted to heroin inside Afghanistan, according to a UN report, most "goes through Baramchin and Nimar to Iran." (See 'US, Iran seek to stop Afghan narco-traffic', March 10, 2009).

To some extent, the invigorated counter-narcotics campaign has benefited Iran by increasing security, although a UN report of a 109% increase in opium production in Herat province adjacent to Iran last year is a worrying sign. Little wonder that in late January, Iran, as an observer to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Central Asian security forum, didn't stand in the way of an SCO statement that put a seal of approval on the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) presence in Afghanistan until it achieves its central task of creating a self-sufficient Afghan army and police force

More broadly, insofar as the NATO operation in Afghanistan has a geostrategic dimension connoting NATO's "east-ward expansion", Ahmadinejad's strong objection at the weekend to the foreign presence in Afghanistan serves the SCO's geostrategic interest of erecting barriers to the organization.

Ahmadinejad's Kabul trip takes place at a time when trilateral Iran-Pakistan-Afghanistan talks have produced a tangible dividend, mainly because Islamabad's recent cooperation with Iran in the arrest of Abdulmalik Rigi, the notorious head of the Jundallah terrorist group, seems to show Pakistan has shifted strategy to make cooperation with Iran an arm of its anti-India policy in Afghanistan.

There is a consensus in Tehran that Rigi's arrest would not have been possible without the cooperation of Pakistani intelligence, which has recently arrested a number of high-ranking Taliban leaders. As indicated by recent terrorist attacks on Indian citizens working in Kabul (attributed by India's media on Pakistan-backed groups), Islamabad has combined a more aggressive anti-India policy with a more compliant role with respect to Taliban and al-Qaeda.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lahore blast-8 dead

Eight people were killed and 45 injured on Monday when a suicide bomber struck at a building housing an investigative agency in this Pakistani city, police said.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) building, located in the up market residential Model Town neighborhood, was teeming with employees when the massive bombing took place.

"It was a car bombing. The terrorists detonated the explosive-laden vehicle at the main gate of the building," DPA quoted Tariq Saleem Dogar, the police chief for Punjab province, as saying.

Pervez Rathor, the Lahore police chief, said eight people had died while over 45 were injured.

He said 40 to 50 people were inside the building when the suicide attack took place.

Earlier reports had said that a security guard stopped a man entering the building located in Model Town area, but the bomber blew him up.

District Coordination Officer Sajjad Bhutta said at least 600-kg explosives had been used in the blast, Geo TV reported.

A police official said the secret agency was working in a residential area as there was shortage of offices.

The blast targeted the special investigation unit of the secret agency.

The deafening blast was so powerful that it created a huge crater and damaged buildings located close by.

An eyewitness said he could watch smoke billowing from the blast site.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Police say 12 people killed, 30 wounded in suicide attack in northwestern Pakistan

A suicide bomber targeted Shiite Muslims on two buses being escorted by security forces through a northwestern Pakistan border area rife with sectarian and insurgent violence, killing 12 people Friday.

Tensions between Pakistan's majority Sunni Muslims and Shiites had made the road unsafe for the minorities traveling to the nearby Kurram tribal region. Police recently had declared it safe, but Shiites are provided security to travel through it.

Friday's attack only targeted the buses carrying Shiites, police official Akram Ullah said. Security forces escorting them weren't harmed.

The victims were passing through a gas station in the town of Hangu when the lone attacker on foot set off the bomb, Ullah said.

Five people were killed at the scene and seven others died at hospitals, he said.

Pakistan's northwest has been plagued for years by Islamist extremist violence fueled by anger over the war in Afghanistan and Islamabad's alliance with Washington. An army offensive that began in October against the Pakistani Taliban spurred attacks that killed more than 600 people.

But with the exception of a few attacks on northwest police stations, violence appears to have subsided in recent weeks, an indication that the army operation in the South Waziristan tribal region may be having an impact.

Sectarian tensions are another matter.

Extremist Sunnis and Shiites have targeted each other's leaders in violence that dates from well before the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Several of Pakistan's Sunni extremist groups also are allied with the Taliban and al-Qaeda, who view Shiites as infidels. The Sunni-Shiite schism over the true heir to Islam's Prophet Muhammad dates to the seventh century.

Also Friday, Pakistan army helicopters destroyed a sprawling hideout of a key al-Qaeda-linked militant leader, Maulvi Faqir Mohammed, in the northwestern tribal region of Bajur, killing 25 insurgents.

Friday, March 5, 2010

India rejects Holbrooke's opinion, Menon heads to Kabul

Rejecting US Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke's remarks about the Feb 26 Kabul attacks, India is convinced that the terrorists' chief target were Indians and is hoping for more leads in the ongoing probe when National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon goes to Kabul on Friday.

We certainly don't go with it. He (Holbrook) is entitled to his personal opinion,” a government source familiar with developments in Afghanistan said.

"We have taken note of it, but we are not losing sleep over it,” the source said.
The sources pointed out that the terrorists' chief target was a building used by the Indian medical mission

Suicide bombers struck at a hotel and a guest house in central Kabul, killing six Indians, including two army majors, in what Indian Ambassador to Afghanistan Jayant Prasad has described as a "26/11-like operation."

Afghanistan's intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, has said there was evidence that Urdu-speaking Pakistanis from Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba were involved in the attack and not the Afghan Taliban

The NSD has told Indian authorities that the terrorists were looking for Indians and had specific information about who was present, including women from SEWA, an India-based NGO.

In Washington, Holbrooke, US President Barack Obama's Special Envoy on Pakistan and Afghanistan said that Indians were not the target of the Kabul attack.” I don't accept the fact that this was an attack on an Indian facility… There were foreigners, non-Indian foreigners hurt. It was a soft target. Let's not jump to conclusions,” he told reporters.
“I understand why everyone in Pakistan and everyone in India always focus on the other. But please, let's not draw a conclusion for which there's no proof,” he added.
Within hours of the Kabul terror spree in Kabul, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said in a statement: “This is the third attack on Indian officials and interests in Afghanistan in the past 20 months.” He stressed that these attacks were “clearly aimed against the people of India and the people of Afghanistan.”

The Indian embassy was attacked twice, first in July 2008 and then in October 2009.
India is hoping for more concrete leads in the ongoing Afghan probe into the Kabul blasts that will establish without doubt that the attack's chief target were Indians when Menon meets top Afghan authorities in the Afghan capital Friday.

He will meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Foreign Minister Zalmay Rassoul and other top Afghan leaders to discuss the latest attack, which India has said was designed to undermine the friendship between the Indian and Afghan people.

Menon will review the security for around 4,000 Indians engaged in a host of reconstruction activities in Afghanistan that ranges from building roads, bridges and power stations to training programs, earning India enormous goodwill in that country.
An inter-ministerial team of Indian investigators is already in Kabul and is assisting the Afghan authorities in the Kabul terror attack.

The Indian team of investigators comprises officials of the home and defense ministries. They will assist the Afghan authorities in the probe, sources said.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Holbrooke debunks talk of US mediation on Kashmir

Without uttering the "K" word, a senior US diplomat has debunked suggestions that Washington should help India and Pakistan resolve the Kashmir issue as part of a regional approach to end the Afghan war.

"Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India... share a common strategic space," Richard Holbrooke, US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told reporters on Tuesday.

"And in order to understand America's policy and America's policy dilemma, one has to understand that both India and Pakistan have legitimate security interests in the region."

"And I'm not talking about that certain area between them which I'm not going to mention by name...because I am not going to get involved in that," he said, carefully avoiding a reference to Kashmir so as not to step on India's toes.

"And people who have advocated that are making a proposal which I believe runs counter to stability in Afghanistan. Afghanistan must be dealt with on its merits," said Holbrooke, who has taken pains to stress time and again that India or Kashmir are nor part of his portfolio.

Stressing that Pakistan and India have a "complicated historic relationship" going back to partition in 1947 and before 1947 "which people must respect", he said: "What happened then affects us today. But I need to stress that both countries have legitimate security interests (in Afghanistan)."

But as President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other US officials "have said repeatedly, there are many countries that have legitimate security interests in what happens in Afghanistan".

Asked if the issue of handing over terrorists involved in 26/11 Mumbai attacks and other terrorist attacks had come up in his talks with India and Pakistan, Holbrooke said: "Well, of course both sides raise issues like that, but it will not serve any purpose for me to make public confidential discussions."

"Our relations with both countries are good. We are improving relations with both countries," he said, noting: "Both in New Delhi and in Islamabad, people come up to us and say, oh, you're pro-the other country, you're favoring one country over another."

"That's not true. We are focused on the issues themselves and on generally good relations, and we seek to do everything we can to help Pakistan economically, which is, I think - which is my highest priority," Holbrooke said. "And we work closely with India on a whole range of issues."

Asked if Indians in Afghanistan could feel safe after the terror attack in Kabul last week that killed 16 people, including six Indians, Holbrooke said: "First of all, in regard to this attack, I don't accept the fact that this was an attack on an Indian facility like the embassy.

"They were foreigners, non-Indian foreigners (were also) hurt. It was a soft target. And let's not jump to conclusions," he said. "I understand why everyone in Pakistan and everyone in India always focus on the other. But please, let’s not draw a conclusion for which there's no proof."

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