Three suicide bombers tried to attack the Indian consulate in an eastern Afghan city today, sparking a shootout with guards on a bustling downtown street that left at least nine civilians dead and and wounded another 24, including a policeman, say officials. Six of the dead and three of the wounded were children. The attack, which ended when the militants detonated a car bomb that left charred debris scattered in central Jalalabad near the Pakistan border, did not appear to damage the consulate itself, and Indian officials said all of the facility's staff escaped unharmed. All three attackers also died, although it was not clear how many were killed by police fire and how many by the explosion.
The Taliban denied responsibility for the attack, and suspicion instead fell upon Pakistan-based terrorist groups that have been blamed for deadly violence against Indian interests in Afghanistan in the past. The bombing comes at a time when Afghanistan and India are both trying to patch up relations with Pakistan. Islamabad considers Afghanistan its strategic backyard, and has always viewed India—with which it has fought several wars in the past 65 years—as a rival. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)