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    Security and Crime

    Plot to kill president foiled; 6 detained

    KABUL (PAN): Four university students, a professor and a guard have been detained on charges of plotting President Hamid Karzai's assassination, the Afghan spy service announced on Wednesday.

    Dr. Aimal Habib, a Kabul University professor, Parvez from Kabul, Abdul Hamid Mashal from Nangarhar, Rahmatullah Ramin from Sar-i-Pul and Abdul Bashir from Kapisa provinces are in detention.

    National Directorate of Security (NDS) spokesman Lotfullah Mashal said the students were members of the Al Qaeda and Haqqani networks and had direct ties to intelligence services of neighbouring countries.

    Mashal told reporters that one of the president's guards, Mohibullah, a resident of the Karz area in southern Kandahar province, was among the detainees. He said he had used the Internet to target important figures and identify the guesthouses of foreigners.

    Dr. Habib, the group leader, had links with Al Qaeda members Haji Bilal and Saifullah, currently being held at Bagram Airbase, according to the NDS spokesman. The men were also involved in insurgent activities outside Afghanistan, he alleged.

    During preliminary investigations, Habib acknowledged visiting Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region, where he received militant training.

    About $150,000 (7.2 million afghanis) had been sent to the detainees' bank accounts by different international organisations, Mashal said, without giving further details.

    The official described the detainees as "a dangerous and educated group, including teachers and students, who wanted to assassinate President Karzai. Unfortunately, they infiltrated the presidential protection system and recruited one of the president's bodyguards."

    President Hamid Karzai, who is currently on a visit to India, said on Wednesday that signing a strategic partnership pact with India would not undermine Afghanistan's ties with its "twin brother" Pakistan. 

    Concluding his two-day trip after signing a strategic partnership deal with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, he said: "Pakistan is our twin brother, India is a great friend. The agreement we signed with our friend will not affect our brother." 

    On September 20, High Peace Council chairman Burhanuddin Rabbani was assassinated by a suicide bomber at his residence in Kabul, an attack that led to halting peace talks with the Taliban.

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