One Indian killed, four hurt in Afghan suicide bombing (Lead)

June 6th, 2008 - 12:09 am ICT by IANS  

Kabul/New Delhi, June 5 (IANS) An Indian engineer with the Border Roads Organisation was killed and four other Indians injured in a suicide attack in Afghanistan’s southwestern province of Nimroz Thursday. Dev Kumar was killed when a man with explosives tied to his body blasted himself before a convoy carrying the BRO workers. The BRO is engaged in the construction of the crucial Zaranj-Delaram highway that will reduce Afghanistan’s dependence on Pakistan for overland access to central Asia.

The blasts occurred at around 4 p.m. local time, according to spokesman of the Afghan Interior Ministry Zamarai Bashari in Kabul.

Bashari said four Indian guards and one Afghan policeman were wounded in the blast.

This is the third attack on Indians constructing the highway project in the last six months.

There are around 4,000 Indians working in Afghanistan on various projects.

Although no one has claimed responsibility for the attacks, the Taliban militia is suspected to be behind the attacks on Indians as they don’t want New Delhi to build the Zaranj-Delaram road link.

In January, a Taliban suicide bomber targeted a BRO convoy in the same Nimroz province, killing two ITBP personnel and injuring four others guarding them.

Suspected Taliban carried out another attack on the Indian construction workers April 12, killing two BRO personnel and injuring five.

Nearly 400 BRO personnel are engaged in construction of the crucial 218-km highway between Zaranj and Delaram in Afghanistan as part of India’s assistance programme for reconstruction of the war-ravaged country.

Nearly two months ago, Mohammed Nayeem, an Indian national, was kidnapped by unidentified militants from Afghanistan’s Herat province. He was released May 18. Nayeem worked as an engineer with Dubai-based HEB International Logistics.

After the kidnapping, India sent more security forces to ensure the safety of Indian workers in that country and stressed that it will “not succumb” to the designs of terrorists.

The Zaranj-Delaram road link seeks to reduce Afghanistan’s dependence on Pakistan for overland access to central Asia and provide an alternative route for Indian goods to that country.

In November 2005, a driver working with the BRO, Ramankutty Maniappan was kidnapped and killed by the Taliban.

Following his death, India enhanced its security personnel, with nearly 400 members of Indo-Tibetan Border Police guarding Indian installations and camps.

India has pledged $850 million for a slew of developmental projects in Afghanistan - a gateway to the energy-rich Central Asia.

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