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Narendra Modi condemns terror attack on Afghanistan military base

LiveMint logoLiveMint 24-04-2017 Elizabeth Roche

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has condemned last week’s deadly terrorist attack on an Afghan military base in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif in Balkh province in which some 140 Afghan National Army soldiers and officers were killed or wounded.

In a letter to Afghan president Ashraf Ghani, the details of which were released on Sunday, Modi described the attack as “barbaric” and said India supported the government and people of Afghanistan, offering assistance to the injured.

“PM @narendramodi condoles w Afghan President @ashrafghani in a letter d barbaric terrorist attack of 21/4 at Mazar-e-Sharif,” said Indian foreign ministry spokesman Gopal Baglay in a Twitter post on Sunday.

“PM @narendramodi strongly condemns d attack. States India stands in solidarity w govt & p’pl of afghanistan, offer all psbl assistance to d injured (sic),” another post by Baglay said.

. PM xprses faith tht Afghan p'pl n security forcs wil ovrcom all forcs agnst unity, peace, security, stblty & prsperty of 🇦🇫

— Gopal Baglay (@MEAIndia)

“PM @narendramodi reaffirms India’s steadfast support to Afghanistan in fighting all forms of terrorism,” he said.

“PM @narendramodi xprses faith tht Afghan p’pl n security forcs wil ovrcom all forcs agnst unity, peace, security, stblty & prsperty of Afghanistan,” he added.

The rebel Taliban group—believed to be supported by Pakistan—is suspected to be behind Friday’s attack which took place as Afghan National Army troops were at prayers and therefore unarmed. It is seen as one of the deadliest attacks on the Afghan security forces who are shouldering most of the security responsibilities in the country, now that the US-led international forces have scaled down their operations with large numbers of international troops having left for home at the end of 2014.

The attack also comes days after the US dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangharhar province targeting Islamic State militants.

Survivors of Friday’s attack said the gunmen were disguised as soldiers, used suicide vests and heavy machine guns, and shot unarmed soldiers at close range in the base’s mosque. They used rocket-propelled grenades and rifles, and several detonated suicide vests packed with explosives, Reuters quoted officials as saying. An Afghan army officer at the base said the death toll could be as high as 150, adding that most of the soldiers were young recruits there for training, the Reuters report said.

Modi’s letter on Sunday follows an Indian foreign ministry statement that “condemned in the strongest terms the deplorable terrorist attack in Mazar-e-Sharif”.

“The terrorist attack is a stark reminder of the need to immediately dismantle the safe havens and sanctuaries that support and sustain terrorism in Afghanistan from outside its borders. India remains steadfast in its support to Afghanistan in fighting all forms of terrorism and bringing perpetrators of terrorist violence to justice, wherever they may be,” the Indian statement said. India offers medical treatment and has pledged more than $3 billion in relief and aid to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban government in the country in 2001. The Indian government has also given some military hardware to assist Afghanistan in recent years.

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