Afghan security forces say foiled Kabul airport plot

KABUL Tue Jul 26, 2011 9:22am EDT

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KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan security forces foiled a plot by insurgents to attack Kabul International Airport after finding a cache of weapons and five Afghan army uniforms just days after a deadly attack on the city's Intercontinental hotel, officials said Tuesday.

Two separate stashes of machine guns and five army uniforms were found near the airport, which is also home to a military terminal used by foreign troops, said Lutfullah Mashal, a spokesman for the National Directorate of Security (NDS).

"They planned to have a big attack on the airport, maybe they wanted to take passengers hostage," he told reporters.

"Near Kabul airport many kinds of weapons were hidden to plan some big attacks, maybe suicide attacks or group attacks on civilian planes," he said.

Mashal said security officials were told about the weapon caches by insurgents who were detained recently.

At least nine people were killed on June 28 when nine heavily-armed attackers stormed the Intercontinental hotel in Kabul, which is frequented by Westerners and VIPs.

Mashal said an Afghan investigation had found the insurgents who carried out the Intercontinental hotel attack received instructions from the Miranshah area in Pakistan's North Wazirstan on the border with Afghanistan.

"All the ... insurgents who entered the Intercontinental were controlled from Miranshah during the attack," Mashal said.

"We will share all the documents, the voice (recordings), the numbers and every piece of evidence with you after it all becomes clear," he added.

The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said in a statement Friday that the Haqqani network, considered one of the most dangerous militant groups fighting in Afghanistan, was responsible for several recent high-profile attacks, including the raid on the Intercontinental hotel.

Gunmen also killed a top adviser to Karzai and a member of the Afghan parliament in Kabul this month in an attack claimed by the Taliban.

But some lawmakers accused the Pakistan military's Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency of being involved. A senior Pakistani security official denied the claim.

(Editing by Michelle Nichols and Sugita Katyal)

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