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Bomb blast near Indian consulate in Afghan city of Jalalabad

A bomb has exploded near the Indian consulate in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad. Several people have reportedly been killed including a number of children.

At least nine civilians were killed and 20 injured on Saturday when suicide bombers detonated an explosives-packed car outside the Indian consulate building. At least seven of the dead were children.

"A car containing explosives hit a barrier near the consulate and detonated," Nangarhar province spokesman Ahmadzia Abdulzai, told news agency AFP

He added that three bombers were believed to have been involved in the attack, which left surrounding shops badly damaged.

Nangarhar police chief Sharif Amin confirmed that the consulate was the intended target of the attack.

"The bombers' target was the Indian consulate in Jalalabad city, but they were identified by police some 100 meters from the consulate, so they detonated the explosives close to a mosque," Amin said.

According to Indian foreign ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin, there were no casualties or injuries among diplomats.

All three assailants were killed in the attack

Taliban denies responsibility

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. A Taliban spokesman released a statement shortly after the incident denying the group's involvement.

"Our fighters have not carried out any attack in Jalalabad," Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP. "We do not claim the responsibility for this attack."

It is not the first time Indian diplomatic missions in Afghanistan have been targeted. The Indian embassy in Kabul was struck by two separate suicide car bombers in 2008 and 2009. More than 70 people were killed and 150 injured in the two attacks.

ccp/jm (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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