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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Afghan spy agency captures “suicide bombers from Pakistan”

KABUL - Afghanistan’s intelligence agency said on Tuesday it had arrested three men planning suicide attacks in Kabul, including two from a Pakistan-based cell run by the capital’s Taleban-era deputy police chief.

The two were seized this week while trying to enter the city from neighbouring Logar province, spokesman Sayed Ansari told reporters.

They were part of a Pakistan-based cell organised by Mullah Mohammad Ibrahim Hanifi, who was the deputy police chief of Kabul during the 1996-2001 Taleban regime, he said.

“Mullah Ibrahim Hanifi, who is living in Pakistan, has been organising suicide attacks in southern Afghanistan. The two men we captured were also sent by him,” he said.

The agency was holding another man suspected of being an accomplice to a suicide bomber who killed around a dozen people outside the interior ministry on September 30, Ansari said.

The blast was one of a series of seven that rattled the capital between early September and early October, killing scores of people, including three foreign soldiers.

The suspect had been identified as a Pakistani national sent to Afghanistan by the outlawed Pakistani militant group of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen to carry out a suicide attack, Ansari said.

Harkat-ul-Mujahideen has reported links to the Al Qaeda terror network and is said to be involved in crossborder attacks.

Suicide attacks have soared in Afghanistan this year, with the tactic generally agreed to have been picked up from international militant groups.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force said this month there had been 91 such attacks in 2006.

The latest was on Tuesday and killed an Afghan policeman in the southern province of Ghazni, according to authorities.

These attacks have killed 155 civilians, 40 members of the Afghan security forces, six government officials and 14 foreign troops, ISAF said.

The Taleban, ousted from government in a US-led military offensive in 2001, uses suicide and road-side bombings in an insurgency that has peaked this year and seen the rebels take on security forces in sophisticated attacks.

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