Another attack on Indian targets in Kabul by the Taliban was averted when suicide bombers linked to the Haqqani network were caught by a surprise swoop by special police units. The bombers were planning a major strike in the Afghan capital.
Afghan intelligence has been warning for the past several weeks of an imminent terrorist strike in Kabul in which Indian targets, including diplomatic ones, featured prominently, said sources in New Delhi.
The Haqqani group has been blamed from number of attacks including bloody strikes on Indian embassy in Kabul in July 2008 and October 2009 which left 75 people dead including officials of the embassy.
The group is also believed to have provided support to a Lashkar e Tayyeba cell that carried out an October 28 assault on a guest house used by UN and Indian workers in which 11 people were killed.
Heavily armed Afghan police stopped the would be bombers at about 7 am on Thursday at a check point in the southeastern suburbs of Kabul as they arrived in a SUV with explosive laden vests hidden in the engine. Police surprised the five bombers who were detained with their lethal baggage.
Their arrest came as for several weeks Afghan and US intelligence had warned of Taliban’s plan to launch more attacks on Kabul’s two neighbourhoods, both housing diplomatic quarters.
Afghan intelligence officials believe that the suicide assaults were designed to show the militants can strike in Kabul at a time when they are under heavy pressure from US and NATO forces in southern Afghanistan.
The five bombers all aged between 20 and 25 who were produced before newsman in Kabul refused to give their names or identities, but Afghan intelligence believe they were sent by the Haqqani network, a Pakistan based Afghan Taliban faction with close ties to Al Qaeda as well as sections of Pakistani intelligence.
The Haqqani group was also suspected to have played a role in the December 30 2009 suicide attack that killed seven CIA and a Jordanian intelligence officer at a forward base in Khost Province.
The network’s leader Jalaluddin Haqqani was a hero of the war against Soviets in the 80s. A US missile strike killed one of his sons Mohammed and three associates early this year.