NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Indian consulate in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, was struck by a suicide bomber overnight – amid warnings against American targets and travel warnings for American citizens.
As CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported Saturday morning, the suicide bomber targeted an explosion in the consulate, killing at least nine people and injuring nearly two dozen.
Police fired on the militants as they approached a checkpoint near the consulate in Jalalabad, prompting one of them to set off their explosives-laden car, said Masum Khan Hashimi, the deputy police chief of Nangarhar province. The blast killed nine bystanders, and wounded another 24 people including a policeman.
All three attackers also died, although it was not clear how many were killed by police fire and how many by the explosion.
In New Delhi, India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin says that all Indian officials in the consulate were safe.
Afghanistan’s main insurgent group, the Taliban, denied in a text message that it had carried out the attack. Smaller militant groups based in Pakistan have targeted Indian interests in Afghanistan in the past.
Hashimi said the attack began when three men in a car approached the checkpoint. Two of the men got out of the car wearing vests rigged with explosives and a police guard immediately opened fire on them, Hashimi said. He added that the third man then detonated a large bomb located inside the car.
The attack came on the heels of U.S. State Department officials issuing a global travel advisory over concern of possible al-Qaeda terrorist attacks, targeting Americans in the Middle East and North Africa.
The alert, which expires August 31, urges Americans traveling in those regions to be aware of their surroundings. CBS News reported.
The State Department has also gone so far as deciding to close 21 embassies and consulates effective Sunday, in several Middle Eastern and North African countries.
The State Department said in a statement that al-Qaeda and its affiliated organizations “continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond and that “they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August.”
“Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests. U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure. Terrorists have targeted and attacked subway and rail systems, as well as aviation and maritime services,” the statement said. “U.S. citizens should take every precaution to be aware of their surroundings and to adopt appropriate safety measures to protect themselves when traveling.”
The alert suggests travelers sign up for State Department alerts and register with consulates or embassies in the countries they are visiting.
“The department, when conditions warrant, takes steps like this to balance our continued operations with security and safety,” said Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson for the State Department.
The State Department has not released any specifics about the threat or where it originated, but said it is acting out of an abundance of caution.
At John F. Kennedy International Airport, many travelers – no matter where they were headed – expressed some fear of flying, 1010 WINS’ Carol D’Auria reported. But many, such as Angelina, did not have nearly enough fear to stop them from taking off.