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India rejects Holbrooke’s opinion, Menon heads to Kabul

New Delhi, March 4 (IANS) Rejecting US Special Envoy Richard Holbrooke’s view on the Feb 26 Kabul attacks, India Thursday said the terrorists’ chief target were Indians and it would seek more leads into the incident when National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon visits Kabul Friday.

‘We certainly don’t go with it. He (Holbrooke) is entitled to his personal opinion,’ a government source familiar with developments in Afghanistan told IANS here Thursday.

‘We have taken note of (his comments) but we are not losing sleep over it. It’s an evolving situation. The investigation is on,’ the source added.

In Washington, Holbrooke, US President Barack Obama’s Special Envoy on Pakistan and Afghanistan, Wednesday said that Indians were not the target of the attack.

‘I don’t accept the fact that this was an attack on an Indian facility. There were foreigners and non-Indians hurt. It was a soft target. Let’s not jump to conclusions,’ Holbrooke said.

‘I understand why everyone in Pakistan and everyone in India always focuses on the other. But please, let’s not draw a conclusion for which there’s no proof,’ he added.

Suicide bombers struck at a hotel and a guest house in Kabul, killing seven Indians in what Indian ambassador to Afghanistan Jayant Prasad said was a ’26/11-like operation’.

Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), said there was evidence that Urdu-speaking Pakistanis from Lashkar-e-Taiba were involved in the attack and not the Afghan Taliban.

The NDS 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.

Within hours of the the Kabul terror spree in Kabul, External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna said: ‘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 into the Kabul blasts when Menon meets top Afghan authorities Friday.

Menon will meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Foreign Minister Zalmay Rassoul and other Afghan leaders to discuss the latest attack, which India has said was designed to undermine Indo-Afghan friendship.

Menon will review the security for around 4,000 Indians engaged in reconstruction activities in Afghanistan that range from building roads, bridges and power stations to training programmes, 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 investigators comprises officials of the home and defence ministries.

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