Pak envoy unhurt in Kabul gun attack

security guard at embassy in Afghan capital injured; President, PM, FM condemn assassination attempt on Nizamani


Our Correspondent December 02, 2022
Pakistan's chargé d'affaire Ubaid Ur Rehman Nizamani. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KABUL/ISLAMABAD:

A Pakistani security guard was wounded on Friday by shots fired at the Pakistan embassy in the Afghan capital, in what Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called “an assassination attempt” on the head of the mission Ubaidur Rehman Nizamani.

A Kabul police spokesman said one suspect had been arrested and two light weapons were seized after security forces swept a nearby building “and prevented the continuation of gunfire”.

An embassy official told AFP a lone attacker “came behind the cover of houses and started firing”. “The ambassador and all the other staff are safe, but we are not going outside of the embassy building as a precaution,” he said.

The Foreign Office in Islamabad said the attack had been aimed at Nizamani, who remained safe. However, it added that a Pakistani security guard, Sepoy Israr Mohammad, was critically wounded while protecting the ambassador.

Sepoy Israr had been evacuated to Pakistan, the Foreign Office said. “The helicopter carrying the injured security guard Israr Mohammad in today’s attack on our mission in Kabul, has landed in Peshawar,” the spokesperson said.

The Foreign Office also said the Afghan charge D’affaires in Islamabad had been called in over the “extremely serious lapse in security” and that he told them that security had been “beefed up” at Pakistan’s mission.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack, which came just days after Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar visited Kabul to meet Taliban authorities to ease tensions along the border.

President Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in their separate Twitter posts, called the attack an “assassination attempt”, while seeking investigation and action against the perpetrators.

The prime minister also spoke to Nizamani and “felt relieved” that he was safe. "I expressed the solidarity with him, while assuring full support and assistance to him and mission on all count,” the prime minister said.

"I strongly condemn dastardly assassination attempt on Head of Mission, Kabul," the prime minister said in his tweet. "I demand immediate investigation and action against perpetrators of this heinous act."

Shehbaz lauded the bravery of the security guard, who received bullet wounds while saving the life of the envoy. "Salute to brave security guard, who took bullet to save his [NIzamani’s] life," he said, praying for his swift recovery.

President Alvi said the attack was a “cause for concern”, adding that Pakistan was determined to eliminate terrorism. “Terrorism is a common threat, it requires joint efforts to fight it effectively,” he said.

The foreign minister also spoke to Nizamani, who “earlier survived an assassination attempt”. He stressed in his tweet that safety of “our diplomats” was of fundamental importance”. He also praised bravery of Sepoy Israr.

Taliban foreign ministry spokesperson Abdul Qahar Balkhi condemned the “attempted shooting and failed attack on the Pakistani embassy in Kabul”, saying that Taliban security agencies would investigate.

The US also denounced the attack. "We condemn in the strongest terms the attack, targeting Pakistani Head of Mission in Kabul," the US embassy in Islamabad tweeted. “We call for a full and transparent investigation."

Hours after the embassy attack, the official Twitter account of the Pakistani consulate in the Afghan city of Kandahar was “hacked” but was immediately recovered on Friday, the consulate revealed in the social media platform.

“Official account of Consulate General of Pakistan Kandahar was hacked a while ago which was immediately recovered. Unsolicited tweets have been deleted. The Consulate offers sincere apologies for any inconvenience this may have caused. The matter is being reported to Twitter,” the consulate said.

The attack occurred at a time of heightened security concerns in areas bordering Afghanistan after the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) ended on Monday a months-long ceasefire with the government.

Later in the day, Afghan Charge d’Affaires was called to the foreign ministry to convey Pakistan’s “deep concern and anguish over the attack in Kabul, the Foreign Office said in another statement.

“The Chargé d’Affaires was conveyed that the incident was an extremely serious security lapse,” the statement said. “It was underscored that an investigation be launched into the serious breach of security of the Embassy premises.”

The foreign office urged the Afghan side to bring the perpetrators to justice urgently and take steps to ensure the security of the diplomatic premises and staff working in Kabul, Jalalabad, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif.

Calling the attack “highly unfortunate”, the Afghan Chargé d’Affaires said that the attack was perpetrated by the common enemies of Pakistan and Afghanistan, the statement said.

The Afghan diplomat also informed that the security of the Pakistani missions had already been beefed up and assured that the Afghan authorities would leave no stone unturned in bringing the perpetrators to justice, it added.

(AGENCIES WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM OUR ISLAMABAD CORRESPONDENT)

 

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