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9 dead in suicide attack on Indian consulate in Afghanistan (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

A suicide bomb attack has struck near the Indian consulate in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad, killing 9 people, most of them children, say authorities. The consulate said that no Indian officials were caught in the blast.

Three attackers in a bomb-laden car detonated their explosives when police opened fire on them as they approached a checkpoint near the consulate.

"@TOLOnews: Eight children killed and 21 other civilians injured in Nangahar suicide attack near Indian Consulate | Police Chief"

— Lotfullah Najafizada (@LNajafizada) August 3, 2013

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

The ensuing explosion injured 24 bystanders, including a policeman. Many of the casualties were children as well. The blast also caused heavy damage to local shops.

Gunfire was reported in the area around the consulate for an hour after the initial blast. 

The Taliban have said they were not behind the attack in a text message to Afghan journalists.

The attack comes off the back of a worldwide travel alert by the US government who claim to have evidence al-Qaeda could be planning an attack in August. As a consequence, the US has issued an order to close 21 embassies, the majority in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Department of State alerts US citizens to the continued potential for terrorist attacks, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa and possibly occurring and emanating from the Arabian Peninsula," the statement read. 

The State Department called on American citizens abroad to take extra precautions and advised that they sign up for State Department updates on the potential threats.

The alert said that public transport systems such as subways, railways, boats and airplanes were prime targets for possible attacks. 

This is not the first time that the Indian consulate has been targeted by insurgency in Afghanistan. In 2008 and 2009 the Indian Embassy was bombed, killing 75 people, while in 2010 two Kabul guest houses were attacked, leaving six Indians dead.

The Indian government laid the blame at the feet of Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba which has been more active in Afghanistan in recent years.

The suicide bomb attack near the Indian consulate may not be coincidental, Dr. Bidit Dey from University of Northumbria told RT.

“I think it is a part of the organized activity. India promotes secularism and democracy in that region, although India has got its own threats from extremist religious groups. But at the same time India has been siding with proper democracy, rule of law and secularism for more than half a century now. And we have to understand the role of India in the BRIC nations. So there is something more than coincidence behind [the attack],” he said.

Afghanistan policemen and civilians walk at the siTe of a suicide attack in front of the Indian consulate in Jalalabad on August 3, 2013. (AFP Photo/Noorullah Shirzada)

Afghan volunteers and security personnel carry a wounded man at the site of a suicide attack in front of the Indian consulate in Jalalabad on August 3, 2013. (AFP Photo/Noorullah Shirzada)

Afghan residents use a blanket to carry the body of a child at the site of a suicide attack in front of the Indian consulate in Jalalabad on August 3, 2013. (AFP Photo/Noorullah Shirzada)

Afghan policemen walk at the site of a suicide attack in Jalalabad province August 3, 2013. (Reuters/Parwiz)