Rocket attack on Afghan loya jirga assembly 'foiled'

An Afghan policeman keeps watch at a vehicle checkpoint on the first day of the Loya Jirga, or the traditional assembly, in Kabul November 16, 2011 Last week's loya jirga was held amid intense security in the Afghan capital, Kabul

Several plots to attack last week's tribal assembly, or loya jirga, in the Afghan capital Kabul were foiled by Afghan intelligence, officials say.

Rockets and car bombs were reportedly discovered and about 15 suspects, Pakistanis among them, detained.

Pakistan has agreed to allow in an Afghan team investigating the killing of ex-President Burhanuddin Rabbani.

He was assassinated by a man posing as a Taliban peace envoy. Afghan officials believe his killer was a Pakistani.

He had been leading Afghan efforts to negotiate with the Taliban and the Afghan government has said it believes forces in Pakistan were behind the suicide attack that killed him on 20 September.

Islamabad has denied all charges of involvement.

But earlier this month both sides agreed to jointly investigate his murder and on Monday an Afghan presidential spokesman said that Pakistan had agreed to accept the delegation and the committee would leave for Pakistan imminently.

"After the pressures that Afghanistan and Turkey put on Pakistan at the Istanbul conference, Pakistan finally agreed to accept our delegation," presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi said.

'Four locations'

Two months on from the killing, last week's loya jirga was held amid intense security in Kabul. Two rockets were fired at the assembly, injuring one civilian, but in spite of threats from the Taliban, there were no major attacks.

But Afghanistan's intelligence agency says that long-range rockets were found in four locations around the city, all aimed at the meeting venue, and several vehicles filled with explosives were also recovered.

Afghan intelligence agency spokesman Lutfullah Mashal said would-be attackers had been rounded up before they could strike.

Burhanuddin Rabbani, file pic from June 2010 Burhanuddin Rabbani led efforts to negotiate with the Taliban

"They were trying to plot suicide attacks and car bombs," Mr Mashal said. "We foiled more than one dozen plots and we arrested about 15 people with rockets, explosives, suicide vests, and other equipment and ammunition."

The spokesman also said that some of those arrested were from Pakistan's tribal belt, adding that the attacks were planned from outside Afghanistan.

He appeared to point the finger at regional intelligence agencies, without naming names or providing proof, the BBC's Orla Guerin in Kabul reports.

In recent months, both Afghanistan and the US have accused Pakistan's intelligence agency, the ISI, of supporting militant groups.

In particular, the ISI is accused of backing the Haqqani network, said to be behind a series of high-profile attacks on US and Afghan government targets in Kabul.

But Pakistan has dismissed such allegations as "baseless and irresponsible".

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