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Manmohan Singh urges Karzai to protect Indians
Kabul, Feb 27 (Agencies):
Published on 27 Feb. 2010 10:53 PM IST
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In the wake of the terror attack in Kabul, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday requested Afghan President Hamid Karzai to ensure full protection for Indians in Afghanistan. Singh made the request when Karzai called him up to express condolence on the loss of Indian nationals in the attacks in Kabul yesterday. Karzai promised “full investigation” into the incident, PM’s Media Adviser Harish Khare said. During the conversation, Singh conveyed India’s “outrage” at the incident, he said. While thanking the Afghanistan government for the assistance given, the Prime Minister requested Karzai to ensure full protection for Indian nationals in Afghanistan. The two leaders agreed to stay in touch with other, he added. Taliban carried out coordinated attack on two hotels in Kabul which had been rented out by Indians associated with the development works in that country. Up to nine Indians were among 17 people killed in the attack. Singh yesterday condemned the terror strike saying it was a “senseless act of violence and barbarism” targeting those who were on a “mission of goodwill and friendship, helping to construct a peaceful, democratic Afghanistan that our Afghan friends desire”. Indians engaged in reconstruction and development tasks in Afghanistan have been repeatedly targeted by Taliban. Miracle saves 3 Sewa women Three members of Sewa miraculously escaped death in Kabul on Friday, in a terror strike that targeted Indian interests and killed at least 11 Indians. When finance minister Pranab Mukherjee was announcing the Union budget, the three Sewa members were praying for their lives in a small storeroom under the onslaught of Taliban bombers and gunmen. These workers — Damiyanti Panchal, Punita Patel and Manishaben — were among the few who survived the attack on a hotel in the heart of Kabul. Apart from the hotel, the bombers also struck two guesthouses; all three facilities are favoured by foreigners, including Indians. In all, 19 people, including the 11 Indians, were killed in the attack. This is the third attack on Indian officials and interests in Afghanistan in the past 20 months. The attacks on the Indian embassy in July 2008 and October 2009 had killed Indian diplomats and officials, besides several Afghan nationals. As for the three women, they work with the vocational training centre established by the Indian government to rehabilitate the war-hit Afghan women.“It was a miracle that we survived the attack. I woke up with the shattering of our windowpane in the first round of firing,” one of the survivors, Sunita Patel told DNA. “Instead of running outside where the firing was going on, we ran through an internal door of our room which was the storeroom. We stayed there for four hours as the firing went on, even in our room. The terrorists came looking for us in the storeroom; they fired but miraculously the bullets swished past us.” Patel said that they were too shocked to be scared. “We were joined by two other Indians,” Patel recalled nervously.“For nearly four hours, we couldn’t talk to each other at all. Our mobiles were switched off as we said our prayers. We came out of the room only when the police came looking for us.” With an eight-year-old son waiting for her, Patel is now looking forward to coming back home to Gandhinagar, on Saturday. All the Indian delegates have been advised by the Indian embassy to return to India immediately. “There are Indian music teachers, doctors and several others. One of them, I am told, has suffered 50% burns in one of the attacks,” Patel said. “We are all returning on Saturday. I would like to come back now.” The hotel had been chosen for Sewa members by the Indian embassy officials. Sewa established a centre in Kabul in 2007 in response to a request made by the Afghanistan government to the government of India, during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Afghanistan in 2006. They work with women of the war-ravaged families. Widows, orphans and wounded have been given confidence and a ray of hope through Sewa’s vocational training programmes in such fields as horticulture, floriculture and embroidery.

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