Afghan officials disrupt imminent, potentially deadly terrorist attack on government compound

The Takeaway

Security officials seized 11 suicide bomb jackets and made at least 18 arrests — foiling a planned attack at the Ministry of Defense in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul, the BBC reported.

The arrests were made less than a kilometer away from Afghanistan’s presidential palace and would have caused significant injuries and death, according to reports. But the Afghan government was quick to try and tamp down the reports — saying they were unconfirmed rumors in what many believe is an attempt by the Afghan government to avoid embarrassment over a major security breach.

According to The New York Times, at least a dozen of those arrested were soldiers in the Afghan army who had planned an attack targeting commuter buses filled with government employees. That so many Afghan soldiers were involved in the plot is both unnerving and unsurprising. Only IEDs have killed more Afghan and NATO forces in recent months than so-called friendly fire by Afghan soldiers and police.

Bilal Sawary, correspondent for the BBC in Kabul, said the targeted buses would have been carrying as many as 1100 people.

“They wanted to carry out a massacre of bloodshed according to one intelligence official,” Sawary said. “The question is, how did those suicide jackets get in the secure area.”

Sawary said at least six Afghan soldiers who were arrested were armed and ready to launch their attack when they were taken into custody.

“Last year, we had a similar infiltration, although on a much smaller scale where an Afghan official at the Ministry Defense helped transport a suicide bomber in an army uniform all the way to the minister’s office,” Sawary said. “Of course, that official was later on jailed and sacked, but it appeared two suicide vests had been recovered from that official’s house.”

This is a huge breech in security, Sawary said, because the Ministry of Defense itself is one of the most secure buildings in one of the most secure areas of the capital city.

“Officials in the last few weeks have been admitting to the BBC that virus of infiltration is spreading like cancer,” he said.

He said there have been a number of lower profile infiltration attacks on the Afghan government.

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