May 3, 2018 / 1:56 PM / 24 days ago

Afghan forces say foil attacks on government building, hospital

KABUL (Reuters) - Afghan security forces arrested seven suspected militants who were planning to attack a government-run hospital and an interior ministry office in the capital Kabul on Thursday, officials said.

The arrests come two days after twin blasts near government buildings in Kabul killed at least 26 people including nine journalists.

Hundreds of people have been killed and wounded in a series of high profile attacks in Kabul in recent months, exposing the inability of security officials and the government to pre-empt or prevent them.

Last month, the Taliban announced the start of its annual spring offensive or the fighting season, saying it will target U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

On Thursday, officials at the National Directorate of Security (NDS) said the seven alleged militants were interrogated and confessed plans to attack an old compound of the interior ministry and the Ghazi Amanullah Khan hospital that provides treatment to Afghan security forces.

The arrested men, according to the NDS statement, were brought to Kabul by a facilitator after they were equipped to mount attacks and become suicide bombers.

An NDS official said the seven youths were trained in different madrassas (religious schools) located in Chaman district, situated on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Afghanistan’s Western-backed government has long accused Pakistan of harboring Afghan Taliban insurgents, a charge that Islamabad denies.

Islamabad, in turn, accuses Afghanistan of not doing enough to eradicate Pakistani Taliban militants, many of whom are based in Afghanistan and mostly carry out attacks inside Pakistan.

Reporting by Qadir Sediqi; Writing by Rupam Jain; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg

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