Suicide Bomber Strikes Indian Embassy In Kabul

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A suicide bomb that struck Kabul on Monday blew off the gates of the Indian Embassy, where Afghans often line up for visas to leave the country. The car bomb, which exploded just as two diplomatic vehicles entered the compound, rattled much of Afghanistan's capital. Dozens were killed and about 150 injuries were reported; the toll is expected to rise, NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson tells Steve Inskeep.

Nelson, reporting from Kabul, says authorities believe the embassy was the target.

"Some people feel it's because of this increased insurgent movement that we have from Pakistan across the border. ... Pakistan and India are not the best of friends," she says.

Officials first thought the Afghan Interior Ministry, which houses police headquarters, might have been targeted. It's across from the Indian Embassy and is heavily guarded, with several checkpoints leading up to it, adding to the surprise that a bomber was able to get near it, Nelson says.

Kabul feels "very unsafe today, and this is after we've all been sort of lulled into a sense of security over recent months because the police have been very active about checking who comes into town. They check all the trunks now of cars and vehicles, which is not something they did before," Nelson says.

There also are questions Monday about reported civilian casualties in recent airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan. "There's no doubt that the fact that there are allegations of more civilian casualties at the hand of U.S. forces or NATO forces does not do much in terms of winning the hearts and minds, which of course is very important to keeping the international coalition here," Nelson says.

NATO officials and Afghan President Hamid Karzai have ordered investigations into the incidents.

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