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Suicide attack by Afghan soldiers foiled

The Afghan Defense Ministry is in almost total lockdown after 11 suicide vests were discovered.

Afghan soldiers suicide vests plotEnlarge
Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers attend a lesson about radio on March 24, 2012. Ten suicide vests were reportedly discovered at the Afghan Defense Ministry on March 27, 2012, prompting a lockdown and the arrests of more than a dozen Afghan soldiers suspected of plotting a suicide attack. (JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images)

Afghan authorities arrested more than a dozen Afghan soldiers in Kabul on Tuesday after the discovery of around 11 suicide vests and a potential mass suicide attack on the Afghan Defense Ministry, said the BBC, citing intelligence officials.

The number of soldiers arrested vary, but the BBC reported 18 and Al Jazeera said 16, while The New York Times simply said "more than a dozen" had been arrested.

The planned suicide attacks would have caused "significant loss of life," revealed the BBC, and some of those arrested were Afghan National Army soldiers.

The Afghan Defense Ministry, in the meantime, has denied the reports, calling them "rumors." Dawlat Wazeri, the ministry's spokesman, told the BBC the ministry was working on finding the men who spread those rumors to the media.

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According to CBS News, the vests were found in three rooms surrounding the parking lot at the ministry. Though the investigation is still underway, it was noted that 11 buses were scheduled to leave the parking lot with Afghan army personnel. Investigators were working on a theory which involved a bomber getting on each of the buses and staging a highly damaging simultaneous attack.

The attack, if carried out, would also have been highly embarrassing for the Afghan government, due to its proximity to the presidential palace. Al Jazeera reported that the ministry was under lockdown, as it was considered "one of the most secure, heavily guarded buildings in the Afghan capital."

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Shukria Barakzai, the former Afghan chairwoman on the defense committee, told Al Jazeera that such plots and attacks were "evidence of high level infiltration" by the Taliban. She said, "It must be people who have links inside of the government, inside the presidential palace, inside the ministry of defense and other ministries..."

The vests were discovered on the same day that three NATO coalition members were killed in two separate attacks, two of them by an assailant in an Afghan army uniform.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/afghanistan/120327/afghanistan-suicide-vest-attack-afghan-defense-ministry