KABUL, Afghanistan – An Iraqi man carrying about 22 pounds of explosives was arrested Friday in a posh Kabul neighborhood on suspicion of planning a suicide bombing attack against Afghanistan's president or defense minister, the government said.
Afghan intelligence services arrested the man on a street corner in the Wazir Akbar Khan district, where many foreigners live and work, a government statement said.
The suspect was identified as Akram Taufiq Muramy, an Iraqi Kurd.
The statement alleged Muramy was a member of an international terrorist organization that previously has tried to attack President Hamid Karzai and his government. The target of this latest planned attack was either Karzai or Defense Minister Mohammed Fahim, the statement said.
"Fortunately the national intelligence service arrested him, the subject is under serious investigation," the statement said.
The government said the suspect entered Afghanistan from the east. Pakistan is Afghanistan's eastern neighbor.
U.S. intelligence says Al Qaeda operatives have fled to Pakistan's semiautonomous tribal regions bordering Afghanistan and to its teeming cities, like Karachi.
Gulbuddin Hamdard, Fahim's secretary, said the minister often was in the district where Muramy was arrested. State-owned television reported that Fahim had a guesthouse in the area.
"The defense minister often travels this route. We are still investigating, but we think he was a suicide bomber," Hamdard told The Associated Press.
The beleaguered Afghan capital has been nervous since a Sept. 5 car bomb killed 30 people and wounded more than 150 others in the heart of the city. There have been a half dozen smaller explosions since August, but they have caused little damage.
Karzai was the target of a Sept. 5 assassination attempt, prompting him to replace his Afghan bodyguards with U.S. special forces.
On Thursday, a rocket slammed into a northeastern neighborhood of Kabul, but no one was hurt.
There have been no claims of responsibility for the attacks on Kabul, but the government blames remnants of the Taliban, Al Qaeda and loyalists of renegade rebel commander Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.