ISI using Taliban as a 'hedge' against India: Afghan official

     Thursday's terror attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul that claimed 17 lives and injured more than 60 has certainly raised concerns over the growing clout of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, but if a senior adviser to the Afghan Foreign Ministry is to be believed the attack could be the handiwork of Pakistan's premier intelligence agency, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI). According to Daoud Muradian, the ISI is using the Taliban as a hedge against India to blackmail the international community. "They (the ISI) use them (the Taliban) against us and leverage against India and blackmail the international community. We face in Afghanistan state sponsored terrorism and that is the ISI of Pakistan," Muradin told Al-Jazeera. "What we face in Afghanistan is a triangle of terror that comprises the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and the ISI of Pakistan," Muradin added. Earlier, the Taliban had claimed the responsibility for the attack on the Indian embassy, which was similar to the attack last year. In a statement on its website, the Taliban said that one of its 'martyrs' had carried out the attack, and said that the Indian embassy in the heavily-fortified central diplomatic area 'was the main target'. The statement also exaggerated the extent of the damage and the death toll, and said that the toll included few high-ranking officials of the embassy, 35 soldiers of foreign and Afghan nationality. "The explosion caused damage to the walls of the Indian embassy, which was the main target," the statement added. The blast tore through a market building across the street from the embassy compound, leaving rubble and debris strewn across the road, and it is also said that the blast was more powerful than last year's blast. It is reported that the impact of the blast created a 'deeper crater' than the July 7, 2008 blast in which 41 people were killed, including an army brigadier and a foreign service officer, and injured about 150 people.

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