KABUL – A suicide car bomber detonated his vehicle outside the Indian Embassy in the bustling center of the Afghan capital Thursday, killing 17 people in the second major attack in the city in less than a month. The Afghan Foreign Ministry hinted at Pakistani involvement — a charge Pakistan denied.
The blast occurred a day after the war entered its ninth year and as President Barack Obama was deliberating a request by the top commander Gen. Stanley McChrystal for up to 40,000 more troops. Opponents of a troop increase want to shift focus to missile strikes and special operations against al-Qaida-linked groups in Pakistan.
The Talibanclaimed responsibility for the attack — the second against the Indian Embassy in the past two years — and specified that the Indians were the target.
In New Delhi, India’s Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said the driver of the sport utility vehicle “came up to the outer perimeter wall of the embassy in a car loaded with explosives.” Three Indian paramilitary guards were wounded by shrapnel, Rao said.
Rao did not say who the Indians believed was responsible for the attack, which occurred about 8:30 a.m. along a commercial street that is also home to the Interior Ministry.