The Afghan city of Herat has witnessed another round of violence after heavily-armed gunmen launched a pre-dawn attack on the Indian Consulate.
Police say the attackers stormed nearby houses to fire on the compound with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.
The gunmen were killed in a firefight with security forces that lasted several hours on Friday in Afghanistan’s third-largest city.
The attackers began their assault on the Indian consulate in Herat hours before dawn, firing guns and rocket propelled grenades from their vantage point in a neighbouring building.
Indian staff at the mission escaped soon after the shooting began at around 3 a.m. Police say Afghan security forces had killed the attackers, who were holed up in buildings overlooking the consulate.
It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack and no one claimed responsibility, though suspicion would inevitably fall on the Taliban and other loosely associated groups.
The attack has underscored a worrying security picture for Afghanistan as it prepares to take over from foreign combat troops after more than 12 years of war against a Taliban insurgency, and hold a presidential election run-off in June.
The small consulate in Herat, one of Afghanistan’s largest cities, is guarded by a team of commandos from the indo-Tibetan border police, with Afghan security forces forming an outer ring.
The Herat mission was considered one of India’s safest in Afghanistan compared with Jalalabad in the East, which was attacked in 2013, and Kandahar in the South.
Afghanistan has seen a surge in attacks in recent weeks as foreign troops begin to withdraw from the country.