A plot to kill Hamid Karzai, president of Afghanistan, has been foiled and six men with links to Al Qaeda and the Haqqani militant network arrested.
Afghan intelligence said the cell included one of Karzai's bodyguards, as well as a Kabul university professor and three university students, the AP reports. Karzai's half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, was killed by one of his bodyguards at his home in Kandahar in July.
As well as plotting to kill Karzai, the men were also planning attacks on the U.S. and Europe, The Telegraph reports.
The plotters were recruited by two Arabs — an Egyptian and a Bangladeshi based in Pakistan — with ties to Al Qaeda based in Waziristan.
"This group was highly sophisticated and highly educated," Lotfullah Mashal, a spokesman for Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS) said, the Telegraph reports.
"Information and data that we found on computers that we seized showed they were also planning attacks on guesthouses in Wazir Akbar Khan and on posh, 5-star hotels in Kabul."
Karzai, who has been the target of at least three assassination attempts since becoming Afghan leader, has just returned from a two-day trip to India.
(GlobalPost reports: In Delhi, Karzai seeks to reassure Pakistan on India pact)
According to Reuters:
The Haqqanis are one of three Taliban-allied insurgent factions fighting in Afghanistan and perhaps the most feared. They are thought to have introduced suicide bombing to the country and to be behind many high-profile attacks.
They have sworn allegiance to the Taliban, but have long been suspected of also having ties to Pakistan's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate.
The Telegraph points out that "Karzai's administration has been thrown into turmoil by a series of targeted assassinations that have wiped out a number of his closest allies and confidantes."