6 Oct 2011

Plot to kill president foiled, Afghans say

6:37 am on 6 October 2011

Afghanistan's intelligence agency says it has foiled a plot to assassinate President Hamid Karzai.

The National Directorate of Security (NDS) said a bodyguard and five people with links to the militant Haqqani network and al Qaeda have been arrested.

The plotters had been trained to launch attacks in the capital Kabul and had recruited one of Karzai's bodyguards to kill the president, an NDS spokesman said.

Those arrested confessed to having been trained to use guns, rockets and suicide attacks and top government officials were among the targets, spokesman Lutfullah Mashal said.

They also said they had received $US150,000 to fund their activities, and planned to kill Mr Karzai during one of his trips outside the capital, he added.

President Karzai has been the target of at least three assassination attempts since becoming Afghan leader in 2002.

During one attempt, in April 2008, insurgents fired guns and rockets at a military parade he attended near the presidential palace in Kabul.

Last month, former Afghan president Burhannudin Rabbani was blown up by a suicide bomber while on a mission to talk peace with the Taliban.

The Afghan government says his killer was a Pakistani citizen, and has accused Pakistan of trying to hamper the investigation into his death.

The Haqqanis are one of three Taliban-allied insurgent factions fighting in Afghanistan. They have sworn allegiance to the Taliban, but have long been suspected of also having ties to Pakistan's spy agency.

NATO-led forces fighting in Afghanistan said on Wednesday that an airstrike had killed a senior Haqqani commander and two of his associates in eastern Khost province, near the Pakistani border.