Afghan intelligence chief claims Pak hand in election-related suicide attacks

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Kabul, Aug.21 (ANI): The chief of Afghanistan's National Security Directorate, Amrullah Saleh, has claimed a Pakistan hand in the several suicide attacks that hit the country on the eve of the second presidential elections as also on the day of the election, which took place on Thursday (August 20).

"These anti-government elements had planned to destroy the electoral process and they had received a large budget for this. The money was there. In Pakistan, the madrassas had called a holiday for the students and told them they should go to Afghanistan to do some symbolic activities that would destroy Afghan people psychologically.Almost 70 had been trained and sent here for destructive activities," the Toronto Star quoted Saleh, as saying.

Saleh said that security forces had stopped five suicide attacks on Kabul on Thursday, and over 20 others elsewhere across Afghanistan.

He said on Thursday evening that documents seized from slain and arrested insurgents indicated a further 25 suicide plots had been aimed at Kabul alone.

The majority of these were thwarted before the assailants could position themselves. But five individuals, wearing suicide vests and carrying other explosive devices, had slipped through the city's heavy security perimeter, prevented from detonating themselves only at the last minute, the paper quoted him, as saying.

"Fortunately, we have stopped them so that none of these plans were implemented. The Taliban will now have to face up to their failures," he added.

Twelve of the 25 suicide bombers were halted in their tracks in Herat,along with six in Kandahar and several in Paktia, Logar and Nangarhar provinces, Saleh claimed.

According to Saleh and other government officials, the neo-Taliban had plotted a vast and cunning array of attacks on the capital over the last 48 hours.

"They had focused on hiding themselves in tall buildings. There were plans for (improvised explosive devices), multiple suicide attacks, car bombings, ambushes, mines and other explosions. Their targets included, allegedly, ministry buildings and one hotel where a large number of journalists were staying," he said.

Saleh said his agents had arrested three key individuals instrumental to the overall plot, including Haji Abdullah, head of intelligence during the Taliban regime and latterly a resident of Quetta, in Pakistan.

Other documents discovered also established funding and command-and-control elements connecting them "to people outside our country," particularly into Waziristan and other tribal areas of Pakistan.

"This is an old complaint that we have against Pakistan and I don't want to say anything more."

Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak said 135 violent incidents had been recorded across the nation involving both heavy weapons and light gunfire, IEDs and mine blasts, but the casualties were minimal.

Interior Minister Mohammad Hani Hatmar said that in 34 provinces 6,199 polling stations out of about 7,000 were able to open their doors to voters.

Kai Eide, the United Nations special envoy to Afghanistan, expressed relief over the way the elections had gone.

"It's clear that the number of people who turned out has varied, from region to region. We don't know what the numbers are in the north, south, west and east.

But the fact these elections have taken place across the country is an achievement for the Afghan people. The mobilization of political energy and interest that we saw in the candidates has been reflected at the ballot stations.Overall, the 20th of August, 2009, has been a good day for Afghanistan," he said. (ANI)

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