Suicide attack targets Afghan spy HQ

Updated 17 January 2013
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Suicide attack targets Afghan spy HQ

KABUL: A squad of suicide bombers attacked the Afghan intelligence agency headquarters in heavily-fortified central Kabul yesterday, killing at least one guard and wounding dozens of civilians, officials said.
All six attackers were killed in the brazen midday attack on the National Directorate of Security (NDS), which is playing an increasingly important role in the war against the Taleban as NATO forces prepare to withdraw next year.
The Taleban claimed responsibility in a text message to AFP, saying “a large number of intelligence workers were killed and wounded”.
The NDS said one of the attackers detonated a suicide car bomb at the gate while five others dismounted from a second vehicle and tried to storm the complex on foot — suggesting that a major attack had been planned.
The five were shot dead, an agency spokesman told a news conference, adding that the car they exited had also been packed with explosives and rigged with a timing device. It was later defused
An NDS spokesman said one guard was killed while a police official earlier said at least two people died, in addition to the attackers.
Thirty-three people, mainly civilians but including some NDS guards, were taken to hospital but about half were discharged after treatment.
On Dec. 6 a suicide bomber posing as a Taleban peace envoy wounded NDS chief Asadullah Khalid, who is still undergoing treatment in the United States, at a spy agency guest house elsewhere in the capital.
Yesterday’s huge explosion was heard throughout Kabul’s diplomatic district, and witnesses said windows were shattered in nearby street.
AFP reporters said it was swarming with security forces moments after the attack.
An NDS official, speaking on condition of anonymity, expressed concern at how the attackers had managed to penetrate one of the most heavily-guarded areas of the capital, which includes the police HQ and the Interior Ministry.
Afghan police and other security forces are increasingly targets of Taleban attacks as they take a bigger role in the fight before the NATO withdrawal.
The NDS plays a crucial role in the fight against the Taleban, who have been waging an insurgency since being ousted from power by the 2001 US-led invasion for harboring Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
Its influence on the conduct of the war is likely to grow as the US and NATO withdraw the bulk of their 100,000 combat troops from the country by end-2014 and hand responsibility for the war to Afghan forces.


With 10-year visa, UAE could be new land of opportunity for Indians

Routine day at Dubai International Airport. AN photo
Updated 9 min 43 sec ago
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With 10-year visa, UAE could be new land of opportunity for Indians

  • The ruler of Dubai changed rules to allow foreign investors to fully own companies
  • The Indian banking sector is far more developed in terms of product, technology and the caliber of professionals

NEW DELHI: Indians are likely to “flood” the UAE once its recently announced residency visa rules for students and highly qualified professionals come into place, experts said Tuesday.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, vice president and the prime minister of the UAE, announced on Sunday a 10-year visa for investors, scientists, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs and innovators, as well as their families.
 As part of the changes, students will get five-year visas and “exceptional” graduates will be eligible for a 10-year visa.  Students currently have to apply to renew their visa each year.
The ruler of Dubai also changed rules to allow foreign investors to fully own companies. So far companies have been required to have a local partner who would hold the majority stake.
 The changes are expected to kick in during the third quarter of this year.
 “The UAE has always welcomed, and always will, innovators and business leaders,” Sheikh Mohammed tweeted as he announced the new rules.
 The UAE, with its proximity to India, high salaries and low taxes, has always been a magnet for Indians. It is home to about 2.6 million Indians who make up roughly 30 percent of the country’s population, according to the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi. These numbers are expected to shoot up once the new rules apply.
 “Indians are always looking at new work opportunities anywhere in the world,” said Aradhana Mahna, managing director of Manya Education, a study abroad solutions provider in Delhi.  While the US and the UK have historically been avenues for Indian students looking to study abroad, the number of students applying to those countries have undergone a “sharp decline” since the election of US President Donald Trump — who made protectionist comments during his campaign days and since taking office — and since the UK decided to split with the European Union, Mahna said.
 “Dubai is close to home and that has always made it a preferred destination for Indians. Especially now with the US going down, it will be flooded by Indians,” she added.
Mukesh Bhasin, partner at Career Connect, an executive search firm that focuses on banking, financial services and the insurance sector (BFSI), agreed that the new rules would go a long way in attracting Indian talent.
 “The Indian banking sector is far more developed in terms of product, technology and the caliber of professionals,” he said. “The encouraging visa regime will lead to a lot of interest from Indian BFSI professionals toward Middle East opportunities given the already-existing tax benefits and international-quality lifestyle.”
 Since the collapse in 2008 of Lehman Brothers, most developed markets, including neighboring Singapore and Hong Kong, have cut back on the number of people they are hiring from abroad for their domestic operations. This includes a slowdown in foreign transfers for Indian employees of multinational banks, said Bhasin.