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KABUL, Afghanistan — Three Haqqani network operatives suspected of planning a bomb attack in Kabul have been arrested, the Afghan intelligence agency said Wednesday.

The men were caught with eight sticky bombs, one pistol, 11 mobile phones programmed to detonate a mine system and one mine remote control, the National Directorate of Security said in a statement.

“These people were planning to carry out terrorist attacks in populated areas of Kabul,” the statement said.

Security in the Afghan capital has been heightened after city police warned of possible attacks coordinated with kidnappings, particularly targeting foreigners.

The likely targets of the threats were international guest houses, offices of the United Nations and International Committee of the Red Cross, banks and residences, according to a message released Wednesday by the U.S. Embassy.

The police chief for District 10, a central area where many foreigners live and work, “asks that anyone that observes suspicious activity immediately notify the police,” the U.S. Embassy message said.

The intelligence announcement said the three Haqqani network operatives were arrested in a special operation by Afghan intelligence personnel, but did not say when.

“They have admitted that they wanted to carry out bomb attacks in Kabul,” the statement said.

Two weeks ago, a massive blast in Kabul killed nearly 70 people and injured hundreds. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the complex suicide attack, which was one of the largest in the city in years. The Haqqani network is believed to be the arm of the Taliban best equipped to carry out complex or coordinated attacks.

Zubair Babakarkhail contributed to this report.

garland.chad@stripes.comTwitter: @chadgarland

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Chad is a Marine Corps veteran who covers the U.S. military in the Middle East, Afghanistan and sometimes elsewhere for Stars and Stripes. An Illinois native who’s reported for news outlets in Washington, D.C., Arizona, Oregon and California, he’s an alumnus of the Defense Language Institute, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Arizona State University.
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