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Taliban deny Indian embassy blast, blame regional rivalry


Agence France-Presse
First Posted 16:37:00 07/08/2008

KABUL -- Taliban insurgents on Tuesday again denied involvement in a suicide attack on India's embassy in Kabul that killed 41 people, blaming rivalry among regional powers including Pakistan.

After Monday's blast, blame were immediately pinned on the Taliban, who have claimed almost all of a wave of suicide attacks carried out as part of an insurgency launched after the hardline movement's 2001 removal from government.

The insurgents however have tended to deny involvement in attacks that have claimed high civilian casualties.

A spokesman for the ultra-Islamic group, Zabihullah Mujahed, told Agence France-Presse the Taliban would have been proud to claim responsibility for the attack but they had not been involved.

"We wish we had carried out this attack ...since India has been the enemy of the Islamic Emirate," he said, referring to the 1996-2001 Taliban regime that was supported by Pakistan, India's long-time rival.

India had assisted the Northern Alliance, an Afghan faction that had fought the Taliban, and was now helping the US-backed government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Mujahed said.

"They send secret military experts to Afghanistan and they train [the] Afghan army," he said.

"Had we carried out the attack, we would have claimed responsibility for it with pride since we have good reasons for it."

Asked who besides the Taliban and its Al-Qaeda backers was able to carry out such an attack, Mujahed said he believed other countries were involved.

"America, China, Russia, Iran, Pakistan and other countries around are rivals in Afghanistan and this attack may be the result of this rivalry," he said.

The Afghan government has accused "foreign intelligence" of involvement in the attack, a likely reference to Pakistan.

Kabul has repeatedly accused elements in Pakistan of supporting Taliban and other extremists for strategic interests. Pakistan denies the accusation.



Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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