Pakistan Condemns ‘Assassination Attempt’ on Its Kabul Embassy

Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, came under gunfire on Friday, Pakistani and Taliban officials said, amid already heightened tensions over security issues between the two countries.

One security guard was critically injured in the attack, according to Pakistani officials, who called it an assassination attempt on their country’s chief diplomat to Afghanistan.

“I strongly condemn dastardly assassination attempt on Pakistan Head of Mission, Kabul,” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif of Pakistan wrote in a tweet.

The attack came days after militants who have sought shelter in Afghanistan ended a monthslong cease-fire with the Pakistani government, stoking fears of a renewal of violence by the group, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan.

It was also the second major attack on a foreign mission in Kabul in three months, and added to a steady drumbeat of targeted attacks and suicide bombings in Afghanistan that have offered reminders of the dangers that persist in the country despite the end of the 20-year war.

Most attacks over the past year have targeted Taliban members and mosques belonging to Shiites and Sufis, two of the country’s minority groups. In September, a suicide bomber from the Islamic State’s affiliate in Afghanistan attacked the Russian Embassy in Kabul, killing two employees and four Afghan civilians.

Russia and Pakistan are two of a limited number of countries that have maintained a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover.

The attack on Friday afternoon began around 3:30 p.m., when several shots were fired at the embassy from a nearby apartment building, according to eyewitnesses and Khalid Zadran, a spokesman for the Kabul police force.

About 15 minutes later, Taliban security forces arrived at the scene and exchanged fire with at least one attacker for around 40 minutes, said Abdullah Abdulrahimzai, a resident in the area who saw the attack unfold.

“The Taliban were shooting at the apartments from a car repair market, and they were also climbing on the roofs around the apartments and shooting,” Mr. Abdulrahimzai said. A helicopter took off from the Pakistani embassy about half an hour after the attack began, he added.

After a brief lull in the gunfire, Taliban security forces entered the building and heavy gunfire erupted, according to Mr. Abdulrahimzai. Taliban security forces apprehended one suspect, Mr. Zadran, the police spokesman, said.

No group has claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack, which was condemned by Taliban officials.

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan “will not allow any malicious actors to pose a threat to the security of diplomatic missions in Kabul,” a spokesman for the Afghan Foreign Ministry, Abdul Qahar Balkhi, said on Twitter. “Our security will conduct a serious investigation, identify perpetrators & bring them to justice.”

In an interview, the Pakistani state minister for foreign affairs, Hina Rabbani Khar, said that Pakistani authorities have called on the Taliban to “take all necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of our personnel and diplomatic premises.” Ms. Khar met with Taliban officials in Kabul on Tuesday to discuss tensions over violence at the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

The attack on the Pakistani embassy added to increasing tensions between the new Taliban government and neighboring Pakistan. For months, Pakistani officials have claimed that newly emboldened militants have launched more frequent attacks in Pakistan from Afghan soil since the Taliban seized power last year.

Those strains were heightened earlier this week when Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, responsible for some of Pakistan’s deadliest recent terrorist attacks, announced that it would no longer abide by a cease-fire with the Pakistani government. A day later, the group carried out a suicide bombing by militants in southwest Pakistan that killed four people and injured more than 30.

The Taliban government in Afghanistan, which had been facilitating peace talks between the militants and the Pakistani government since late last year, has denied sheltering militants on Afghan soil.

Safiullah Padshah contributed reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, Najim Rahim from San Francisco and Salman Masood from Islamabad.

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