KABUL Afghan and foreign troops killed two men during a raid in downtown Kabul after receiving a "credible threat" to attack the U.S. Embassy in the capital, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said on Saturday.
ISAF confirmed Friday's operation after Afghan security officials had said foreign troops were involved in a night raid that targeted a compound belonging to a private security firm.
The raid came after Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security said this week it had separately detained three people it said had been instructed by the Pakistani Taliban to attack the presidential palace and U.S. embassy in Kabul.
"After receiving a credible threat to attack the U.S. Embassy, ISAF coordinated with Afghan security forces to move on an area of interest," ISAF said in a statement late on Friday. "Intelligence reports indicated there were two vehicles parked there that were thought to be loaded with explosives."
As the troops moved in, they were shot at and during the clash two men, said by Afghan officials to be Afghan security guards, were killed, two wounded and 13 more apprehended, ISAF said.
"A high-ranking Afghan National Security Forces commander arrived and took command of the scene. He personally vouched for those detained in the operation and they were subsequently released," ISAF said.
The coalition said a large number of weapons were found during the operation, but did not say if any explosives were found. It said the target area was near an office building in Kabul, but gave no further details.
A police official in Kabul said the raid targeted a security firm named National Tiger which was responsible for providing security and transport for at least three Afghan businesses.
Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Zemari Bashary said on Friday the incident was being investigated.
The use of "night raids" on private homes by foreign troops seeking insurgents has long angered Afghan officials.
Rules governing their use were tightened in 2009 and again this year but it is far less common for raids to be carried out by foreign troops on private security companies.
Under the new rules, raids must be cleared by Afghan authorities first and must involve Afghan troops.
Violence is at its worst in Afghanistan since U.S.-backed Afghan troops ousted the Taliban in 2001, with record deaths on all sides of the near-decade long conflict.
(Writing by Michelle Nichols, editing by Daniel Magnowski)