Karzai says Pakistan behind Indian embassy bomb

KABUL Mon Jul 14, 2008 7:14pm IST

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks at a news conference in Kabul June 15, 2008. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood

Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks at a news conference in Kabul June 15, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Ahmad Masood

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KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan President Hamid Karzai said on Monday Pakistani agents were behind the Indian embassy bombing in Kabul last week, the first time he has directly accused Pakistan of involvement in the suicide attack that killed 58 people.

Afghan officials have previously said the July 7 attack bore all the hallmarks of a foreign intelligence agency but stopped short of naming any country.

But Afghanistan believes Pakistan is secretly helping Taliban insurgents as a strategic asset to counter Indian influence, keep the war-torn country weak and allow Pakistani forces to concentrate on defending the border with India.

Afghanistan has already blamed Pakistan for a string of attacks, including an assassination bid on Karzai in April and a June assault on a prison that freed about 400 militants.

Pakistani officials deny the government is aiding the militants and says Afghanistan is trying to cover up for its own failure to defeat the insurgency more than six years after U.S.-led and Afghan forces overthrew the Taliban in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Karzai last month threatened to send troops into Pakistan to fight militants there if Islamabad failed to take action.

He said on Monday that Pakistani agents were behind the embassy attack, the beheading of two Afghans in Pakistan last month, the killing of two women in Afghanistan's Ghazni province and 24 people in a suicide bomb in Uruzgan province on Sunday.

"Now this has become clear. And we have told the government of Pakistan that the killings of people in Afghanistan, the destruction of bridges in Afghanistan ... are carried out by Pakistan's intelligence and Pakistan's military departments," Karzai told reporters.

"We know who martyred our two sisters and know who martyred our people in Deh Rawood (in Uruzgan) and know who martyred the people a few days back in Kabul," he said.

"We will take revenge for these two sisters of ours very soon ... and we are telling the enemies of Afghanistan that we will protect the honour of this country."

He gave no evidence to back up his accusations.

SHARP RISE IN BORDER ATTACKS

Karzai said in an interview broadcast on Monday he favoured good ties with Pakistan, but added there were "elements in Pakistan's intelligence and Pakistan's army" who did not want a stable Afghanistan.

Afghan and NATO officials blame a sharp rise in violence in eastern Afghanistan this year on de-facto ceasefires between the Pakistani military and militants in Pakistan's lawless tribal regions that have allowed the Taliban to concentrate on cross-border attacks into Afghanistan.

The U.S. military says attacks in the east have gone up by 40 percent since March over the same period last year.

Pakistan's new government has sought to negotiate peace deals with the militant groups on its soil to bring an end to violence that has claimed hundreds of Pakistani lives in the past year.

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