Afghan attack claims ‘highly disturbing’

March 25, 2014 - 7:06:36 am

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan yesterday said it was “highly disturbing” to see attempts being made to implicate it in an attack on a Kabul hotel that left nine civilians dead, including an AFP journalist.

Afghanistan said on Sunday the attack on Hotel Serena was planned “outside the country”, in a veiled reference to Pakistan.

The National Security Council (NSC), chaired by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, also alleged that a Pakistani diplomat was seen scooping out the corridors of the hotel ahead of the Thursday night raid.

“It is highly disturbing that attempts are being made to somehow implicate Pakistan in this terrorist incident. We reject the insinuation,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said in a statement. “The tendency to immediately blame Pakistan is unhelpful and should be discarded.”

She said Pakistan has condemned the attack. “A Pakistani has also sustained serious injuries and remains under treatment.”

Pakistan was the main supporter of the former Taliban regime in Afghanistan, and Afghan officials have long voiced suspicions about connections between the hardline movement and Islamabad’s powerful intelligence services.

NSC said the attack carried out by four teenage gunmen and claimed by the Taliban, was the work of “foreign intelligence services” — a phrase normally meant to mean neighbouring Pakistan.

“Witness testimony and preliminary information analysis show that the attack was directly executed or carried out by foreign intelligence services outside the country,” the council said in a statement. “Another information of National Directorate of Security shows that earlier when one Pakistani diplomat entered the hotel to use its sport club, he filmed the corridors and staff objected to it,” the statement said.

NDS is Afghanistan’s main intelligence agency.

Victims included AFP journalist Sardar Ahmad, his wife and two of their three children, along with another Afghan, two Canadians, an American and a Paraguayan. The couple’s youngest son, Abuzar, 2, sustained bullet wounds to the head, chest and leg. He is showing signs of improvement, doctors said.

“Abuzar is alive because he was brought very quickly to the hospital,” Luca Radaelli, medical coordinator at the Italian-run Emergency Hospital, said. “He is undergoing evaluation, and we have to be careful because anything can happen. He has started feeding orally and is alert in bed with his eyes open.”  The bullet fragment has been removed from his skull and he is being treated for other wounds. AFP