|Afghan officials accused Pakistan Tuesday of being behind a suicide blast at the Indian embassy that left 41 people dead, saying the attack had the hallmarks of its intelligence agency.
Monday’s car bomb ripped into the embassy compound in the capital, killing two Indian diplomats and two Indian guards as well as nearly three dozen Afghans. Nearly 150 people were wounded, Afghan officials said.
"We believe firmly that there is a particular intelligence agency behind it," presidential spokesman Homayun Hamidzada told reporters. He would not name the outfit but said it was "very obvious" whom he meant.
A senior government official who did not want to be identified told AFP separately: "Pakistan was behind the attack on the Indian embassy."
Hamidzada said the attack was "designed outside Afghanistan and it was exported to Afghanistan" with the help of local collaborators.
"The sophistication of this attack and the kind of materials used and the specific targeting, everything has the hallmark of a particular intelligence agency that has conducted similar terrorist acts in Afghanistan in the past," he said.
Afghanistan regularly accuses circles in Pakistan, a long-time rival of India, of supporting the Taliban and other militants waging a deadly insurgency in the war-ravaged nation. Pakistan rejects the accusation.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday denied his government was involved in the attack, saying in Kuala Lumpur that it was not in Islamabad’s interests to destabilize Afghanistan.
A security report to the Afghan cabinet on Monday also accused an unidentified foreign intelligence agency of involvement in the suicide blast, hinting it referred to Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence agency.
"The terrorists no doubt could not have succeeded in launching such an atrocity without full support of foreign intelligence," it said, according to a summary of the cabinet meeting released to journalists.
The report also said a "big number of puppet and foreign terrorists, the enemies of peace and stability of the Afghan people, have entered the country in the past several months," according to the summary.
And in a clear reference to Pakistan, it said "evidence shows that the terrorists have been trained, equipped and financed in professional bases across the border."
The cabinet had "decided to raise the issue with Afghanistan’s international anti-terrorism partners seriously," the summary said.
Kabul and Islamabad are key players in the United States "war on terror" launched after the September 11, 2001 attacks blamed on Al-Qaeda, which the Taliban regime allowed to operate in Afghanistan.
But Afghan and Western officials allege that Islamic extremists have sanctuaries in Pakistan which helped to create the Taliban as an armed militia and was one of only three countries that recognized the hardliners government.
Islamabad officially dropped its support for the Taliban only after the 9/11 attacks but Afghans allege it still wants the new government in Kabul to fail for its own strategic purposes.
The Taliban, who have claimed almost all of a wave of suicide attacks as part of their insurgency, again denied involvement and blamed rivalry among regional powers, including Pakistan.
"We wish we had carried out this attack ... since India has been the enemy of the Islamic Emirate," spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed told AFP, referring to the 1996-2001 Taliban regime.
India had assisted the Northern Alliance, an Afghan faction that 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."