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Arrest of Afghan Insurgents May Have Prevented Terror Threat, Officials Say - 2004-04-14

Afghan forces and international peacekeepers say the arrest of six suspected insurgents in the capital Kabul curbed an imminent terror threat. The announcement follows the wounding of three Afghan soldiers and a police chief in a Kandahar bomb attack.

A spokesman for the international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan says one of those arrested in Tuesday's pre-dawn raid is believed to be a top-ranking aide to insurgent leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

Mr. Hekmatyar is a former Afghan prime minister and factional leader, whose Hizb-e Islami group has joined remnants of the former Taleban regime in fighting against Afghanistan's U.S.-backed government.

Commander Chris Henderson says the suspect, whom he would not identify by name, posed an immediate danger to Kabul residents and particularly to foreign aid workers in the city.

"He is suspected to be a senior member of Hizb-e-Islami-Gulbuddin, and as such, he posed an imminent threat," he said. "And so it was for that reason that the decision was made to remove him."

The arrests come less than a week after Mr. Hekmatyar issued a statement renewing his call for an uprising against the Afghan transitional government.

Commander Henderson says the raid and arrests demonstrate the increased capability of the new Afghan security forces to protect the country.

On Wednesday, an explosive device planted on a road near the southeastern city of Kandahar injured a senior policeman and three Afghan soldiers as they drove by.

The incident occurred close to a U.S. base, set up to provide security for reconstruction work in the area. It is not clear who is responsible for the blast.