KABUL — Afghanistan security forces killed five potential suicide bombers in an early raid on a compound in Kabul after a five-hour gun battle Thursday with Taliban-led insurgents, officials said.
The operation was carried out in the area of Puli Charkhi, on the eastern edge of Kabul, after Afghan intelligence identified the compound and raided it but the insurgents resisted.
The bombers were planning to organize coordinated suicide attacks in different parts of the capital using cars packed with explosives and wearing burqas to disguise themselves, according to a statement by the National Directorate of Security (NDS), as the Afghan spy agency is officially known.
The intelligence agents discovered three explosive-laden vehicles from the attackers' compound along with suicide vests and ammunition, maps and the target areas, the statement said.
Sediq Sediq, the spokesman for the Ministry of Interior Affairs, said all signs and evidence collected from the scene indicated the bombers were part of the Haqqani Network, an extremist group based in a tribal area of Pakistan allied with the Taliban.
"Our initial findings show they were Haqqani," Sediqi said.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid rejected the claim in a statement on the movement's website and said they had not planned any attack in Kabul on Thursday.
"Islamci Emirate holy warriors didn't have a plan of attack in Kabul today, nor those who were killed are really holy warriors," he said. "The whole process is fabricated."
The spy agency said it seized some phone numbers belonging to the Haqqani Network, which is fighting against U.S.-led international forces and the government of Hamid Karzai.
Meanwhile, U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan said on Thursday that two soldiers died in southern Afghanistan from an improvised explosive device, or home-made bomb. They didn't provide further details.
So far this year, 266 U.S.-led NATO troops have died in Afghanistan, of which 205 are U.S soldiers, according to icasualties.org, which tracks fatalities of coalition forces.