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Afghan Authorities Foil Alleged Karzai Assassination Plot

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai (R) in New Delhi, October 4, 2011
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai (R) in New Delhi, October 4, 2011

A plot to assassinate Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been foiled, according to authorities in Afghanistan.

The country's intelligence agency said Wednesday they arrested six suspects, including some who allegedly receiving training in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region.

National Directorate of Security spokesman Lutfullah Mashal said a "dangerous and educated group" including teachers and students with ties to al-Qaida and the al-Qaida-linked Haqqani network was behind the plot.

He added the group was able to recruit one of President Karzai's bodyguards.

Authorities accuse the would-be assassins of making contact with an Egyptian and a Bangladeshi who are members of al-Qaida and the Haqqani network based in Pakistan. Officials also said the plotters had access to $150,000 to fund their activities.

The French news agency quoted an unnamed Afghan government official as saying intelligence agents were still searching for others allegedly involved in the plot, including teachers, students, civil servants and a journalist.

Mr. Karzai has been the target of at least three assassination attempts since becoming Afghanistan's leader in 2002.

The president rarely leaves the closely guarded palace compound in Kabul, since surviving a 2008 attempt on his life at a military parade in the Afghan capital.

Wednesday's announcement follows a series of high-profile killings, including the July assassination of the president's powerful half-brother Ahmad Wali Karzai by a security guard at his home in the southern city of Kandahar.

U.S. and Afghan officials increasingly have accused the Haqqani network of conceiving and carrying out attacks in Afghanistan with the support of Pakistan's military spy agency, a charge Islamabad denies.

Earlier Wednesday, NATO officials said a coalition airstrike killed a senior Haqqani network leader in southeastern Khost province near the border with Pakistan.

The militant, known only as Dilawar, was killed Tuesday during the strike in the Musa Khel district. A statement says two of his associates were also killed in the strike.

NATO says Dilawar was a "principal subordinate' to Haji Mali Khan, the main leader of the Haqqani network in Afghanistan. It says he died exactly one week following Khan's capture.

The alliance accuses Dilawar of working with Khan to plan attacks against Afghan and coalition forces along the border area. The statement adds that he was also responsible for facilitating the movement of foreign fighters and weapons in the area.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.