Even as Indian forces continue to fight insurgents outside the Indian consulate in the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif, respite comes to them in the form of the provincial governor, Ata Mohammad Noor. The Indian mission in Mazar has been engaged in a battle with gunmen in the complex around the consulate since Sunday night.
Indian officials confirmed that all those within the consulate compound are safe. While the ITBF has managed to hold back the attackers, the Afghan government has reportedly sent in Special Forces to help eliminate Mazar attackers early Monday morning.
However, the governor of Balkh, of which Mazar-i-Sharif is the capital city, was reportedly at the scene of the attack since Sunday night, in an attempt to control the situation.
Former Ambassador of India to Afghanistan, Amar Sinha, confirmed Noor's presence in his tweet
Clearing ops in Mazar on by special forces. Heavy fighting going on. GOV Atta personally monitoring. All safe in consulate.- Amar Sinha (@SenseandC_sense) January 4, 2016
Noor, a former Mujahideen during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, was trained in combat and was the resistance commander for the Jamiat-e Islami - an armed political resistance against the Russians. Later, he served as a commander in Ahmad Shah Masood's Norther Alliance - the resistance against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, that was also supported by India during the 90s.
In a Facebook post that has since gone viral, Noor is seen along with his son and local forces, taking charge of the situation.
"We were sitting and watching the football match like everybody else in the country," Noor writes on his Facebook page, referring to the South Asian Association Football championship that took place last night between India and Afghanistan. "When we were waiting for victory, we heard of the attack on one of the residential complexes of the Indian consulate in Mazar," he says.
The provincial police chief and provincial head of the National Directorate of Security also joined Noor since the attacks began.
Mohammadi Wahidy, a senior official from the Balkh Police Chief's office, informed Catch News that evacuation of the area is underway. "The attack commenced around 8.30pm," he informs. "However, we could not do much last night as it is a residential area, and most of the people were home due to the match."
"The terrorists have entered and captured the house of a local politician, Sayeed Noorullah," adds another senior official at the police chief office. "The terrorists are holed up on the fourth floor of the four-storey house, which also serves as a safe room for the building," he said. As a result of which, the Afghan forces are unable to capture the insurgents. "We are unable to penetrate the safe room and one of our engineers has been injured in the process," he informed.
According to the officials, two civilians and six security forces officers have been injured since last night. "Although, there have been no deaths, one special force soldier is critically injured," he added.
With inputs from Hikmat Noori