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Nine killed in suicide bomb attack on Indian consulate in Afghanistan

Many of those killed were children during a botched attack on the Indian consulate in an eastern Afghan city

Three suicide attackers killed at least nine civilians, most of them children, in a botched attack on the Indian consulate in an eastern Afghan city near the border with Pakistan, security officials said on Saturday.

Police fired on the militants as they approached a checkpoint near the consulate in Jalalabad, prompting one of them to detonate their explosives-laden car, said Masum Khan Hashimi, Deputy Police Chief of Nangarhar province. The blast left nine bystanders dead and another 24 people wounded. 

All three attackers were also killed, although it was not clear how many died because of police fire and how many were killed in the explosion.

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 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.

The Indian Embassy was bombed in 2008 and 2009, leaving 75 people dead.

In 2010, two Kabul guest houses popular among Indians were attacked, killing more than six Indians. India blamed that attack on the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The attack came as the US planned to shut its embassies in the Muslim world for the weekend due to an al-Qaida threat.

Additional reporting by agencies