A suicide car bomber detonated his vehicle outside the Indian Embassy in the bustling center of the Afghan capital yesterday, 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 Taliban claimed 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.
However, the Afghan Foreign Ministry said the Thursday attack “was planned and implemented from outside of Afghan borders” by the same groups responsible for the July 2008 suicide bombing at the Indian Embassy that killed more than 60 people.
The ministry statement made no mention of Pakistan. However, the Afghan government blamed Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence for the 2008 bombing at the Indian Embassy as well as involvement in a string of attacks in the country.
U.S. officials suspected the 2008 embassy bombing and other high profile attacks were carried out by followers of Jalaluddin Haqqani, a longtime Afghan militant leader whose forces are battling U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan from sanctuaries in the border area of Pakistan. At U.S. urging, the Pakistani military says it’s planning an offensive against extremists in the border area.
In Islamabad, Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Abdul Basit, condemned Thursday’s bombing.
“Whenever terrorist activity occurs it should strengthen our resolve to eradicate and eliminate this menace,” he said. Basit called allegations of a Pakistani role in the Kabul bombing “preposterous.”
The Taliban did not say why it targeted the Indian Embassy. India and Pakistan, archrivals since the 1947 partition of the Indian subcontinent, are competing for influence in Afghanistan among rival ethnic groups. India maintains close ties with the Tajik community, and Pakistan with the Pashtuns, who form the majority of the Taliban.
Thursday’s blast was the deadliest attack in Kabul since Sept. 17, when a suicide bomber killed 16 people, including six Italian soldiers and 10 Afghan civilians, on a road in the center of the capital.
The Interior Ministry said 15 civilians and two Afghan police officers were killed in Thursday’s blast. At least 76 people were wounded, the ministry said. President Hamid Karzai, the U.S. Embassy and the United Nations mission all condemned the attack.
After months of relative calm, the Afghan capital has been shaken recently by an increasing number of suicide attacks and roadside bombings that began in the run-up to the country’s disputed Aug. 20 election. The attacks usually target international military forces or government installations, but Afghan businesses and civilians are also often killed or injured.
The Indian news channel CNN-IBN cited Jayant Prasad, India’s ambassador in Kabul, as saying the blast caused “extensive damage to the chancery.” He said the bomb was so powerful that it blew off some of the embassy’s doors and windows.
Govs To Engage NLC, TUC On Fuel Subsidy Removal -Fayemi
The Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) is to engage organised labour unions on the removal of fuel subsidy in the country.
The NGF Chairman and Governor of Ekiti State, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, disclosed this while briefing newsmen at the end of the forum’s meeting which ended in the early hours of yesterday in Abuja.
Fayemi said that the 36 states governors met and discussed issues of national importance including removal of subsidy and Electoral Amendment Bill.
“We discussed the issue around petroleum subsidy and concluded to engage the leadership of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress.
“We will engage them on how best to address this issue without causing any disaffection, but with a view to salvaging the Nigerian economy for the Nigerian people at the end of the day.
“So, we shall be engaging the NLC as sub national leaders and with a view to ensure that the outcome of our engagement will also be fed into the national discourse,” Fayemi said.
Speaking on what was the input of the NGF in the proposed price of N302/litre as price of petrol; Fayemi said the matter was not a decision of the governors but the exclusive responsibility of the Federal Government.
He said that even though it was the responsibility of the National Economic Council, the governors were contributing to the debate.
Fayemi also commended the Senate for accelerating the removal of the contentious clauses in the draft Electoral Amendment Bill.
He expressed hope that the House of Representatives would follow suit, so that the revised electoral Bill could be returned to Mr President for assent on time.
This, according to him, will enable the various institutions, particularly the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to proceed at pace with its responsibilities towards the various elections in 2022 and 2023.
“We also discussed the health update particularly in relation to COVID-19 infection and expressed happiness that the current Omicron variant has been declining progressively.
“However, we also note that there is need for states led by us to ramp up the COVID-19 vaccination exercise.
“On nutrition which remains priority of the government, the governors concluded that there is need to increase our support in terms of budgetary provisions for nutrition,” he said.
Fayemi disclosed that the governors received presentation from the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) on Ease of Doing Business.
He said that the governors at the meeting discussed the next phase of ease of doing business survey with the Special Adviser to the President on Ease of Doing Business, Dr Jumoke Oduwole and the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri.
“The presentation elaborated on the need to step up the reforms towards improving the investments and business climate at the sub national level.
“Governors also reviewed the recently launched National Development Plan 2021 to 2025.
“This is with a view to ensuring that the National Development Plan is aligned to individual state development plans that have been produced or in the process of being produced to ensure synergy between the development efforts by the federal as well as state governments,” Fayemi said.
Banditry: ‘Over 61,000 Nigerian Schools Vulnerable To Attacks’
In the wake of consistent attacks on schools by bandits in some parts of the country, Commandant General, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Dr Abubakar Audi, has disclosed that over 61,000 Nigerian schools are vulnerable to security threats.
He, however, said the corps would not rest on its oars in seeing to the success of the Federal Government’s Safe Schools Initiative.
Speaking at the inauguration of a 16-member committee on the development of a standard curriculum for Civil Defence Training Colleges across the country, Audi said Nigeria has a total of about 81,000 schools out of which 61,000 are vulnerable to threats.
Audi also told the newly inaugurated committee that the curriculum was a deliberate step towards actualising his vision to reposition the corps.
He said; “I set out to upgrade facilities in our existing training colleges knowing full well that training is an essential ingredient towards attaining optimal performance, skill acquisition/capacity building, and productivity.
“I also initiated the process of developing a standard curriculum for the training schools in order to develop career progression and development courses which will form the basis for future progression in service.
“This issue was discussed extensively at the management level and it was agreed that a committee of professional experts is set up to develop a standard curriculum for our training colleges. The management’s recommendation and membership of the committee were subsequently given a ministerial nod by the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, hence today’s inauguration ceremony.
“It is worthy of mention that this ministerial committee is made up of eminent Nigerians and professionals who are experts in curriculum development and have distinguished themselves in the field of education.”
A representative of the Minister of Interior, Peter Ogbodo noted that training was the “live wire” of any organisation, adding that it “is the motivation for individuals to re-educate themselves to the service they have been committed to.”
The committee, which has four weeks within which to turn in its report, has a Professor of Crime and Political Sociology and Development and Vice-Chancellor, Nasarawa State University, S. B. Mohammed as chairman.
Others are a Professor of Law at the University of Jos, Ibrahim Adamu; retired Commandant, Command and Staff College, Jaji, Gen. M.A. Nasamu; a retired Deputy Commandant General (Operations), NSCDC,Evans Ewurum; a retired Commandant of Nigeria Police Academy, Wudil, DIG Mohammed Sani; and a retired Deputy Commandant General of the NSCDC, Adeoye Emmanuel, among others.
IGP Orders Female Personnel To Perform Tasks Reserved For Men
The Inspector-General of Police, Alkali Usman has asked female officers to brace up as they will now be deployed to perform all roles originally reserved for their male counterparts in the force.
The IGP, who was in Cross River State on a visit, addressed officers and men at the state Police Command on Diamond Hill Calabar, yesterday.
He said the force has evolved much and that the female personnel have equally been trained in all aspects of police duties.
“Henceforth, in keeping with modern trends, all female personnel in the Nigeria Police Force should brace up as they are going to be posted to do all the traditional duties hitherto reserved for men.
“We shall post them to head critical crime areas as well as head such divisions and would also deploy them to arrest criminals”.
He disclosed that 10,000 new recruits were on training and would be deployed in such sensitive areas when they graduate.
He called on all police commands in the country to devise ways to combat what he described as new crimes.
He said banditry, cybercrimes and kidnapping are new crimes that old officers did not learn strategies to combat while at training colleges.
He disclosed that the force has already sent 50 personnel to training in different countries.
To assist the state command reduce its vehicular challenge, the IG directed the release of ten brand new Toyota vehicles next week.
“We are doing the very best to contain challenges prevalent in the command. Next week, your commissioner will take delivery of five vehicles and an additional five next month. We are taking action in refurbishing dilapidated infrastructure; new barracks will soon be built.
“We are emphasising on training and retraining and have sent 50 personnel abroad.”
The IG emphasised the importance of synergy and collaboration with sister security agencies to stem the tide of crimes.
Still responding to the state Commissioner of Police, Aminu Alhassan, who drew attention to the threats posed by IPOB and Ambazonian insurgency in nearby Cameroon, the IG said more gunboats would be provided to help in the command patrol the maritime boundary check possible infiltration.
According to the commissioner, attempts to turn the state into a criminal den have been thwarted by his command.
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