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A Nato soldier aims his weapon during a gun battle in Kabul, Afghanistan. – File Photo by AP

KABUL: Afghan security forces killed five insurgents and wounded one during a pre-dawn raid in Kabul on Thursday, with authorities saying they had thwarted a mass attack and captured intelligence pointing to the militant Haqqani network.

Soldiers from Afghanistan’s spy agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), launched the raid just after midnight, entering a single-story house compound on the fringes of Kabul which the insurgents were using as a base.

“They planned mass attacks in different parts of Kabul disguised in burqas,” the NDS said in a statement.

Police said two insurgents escaped during a gun battle that raged for five hours around the isolated compound, where the insurgents had been amassing weapons in a newly built brick house.

The militants had three vehicles loaded with explosives and suicide-bomb vests, as well as large stores of rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons, and planned to occupy a high-rise building to attack the city’s business heart.

The Taliban issued a statement denying that Thursday’s operation had targeted their fighters, although the insurgents often play down their defeats and inflate successes.

The NDS said target maps and telephone numbers recovered from the compound had numbers of phone lines outside Afghanistan and said to be leading to members of the Haqqani network.

Haqqani network militants, allied with the Taliban and alleged by Nato-led forces in Afghanistan to be based in northwest Pakistan’s lawless border lands, have been blamed for several high profile attacks in recent months.

Dozens of militants launched a coordinated assault in central Kabul on April 15, occupying a high-rise construction site and pounding the city’s diplomatic and government centre with rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire in an attack that took 18 hours to quell.

On June 22, Afghan security forces fought a day-long battle with insurgents after a Taliban attack on a lakeside hotel on Kabul’s outskirts.

But security forces and Nato-led foreign troops say the sporadic attacks do not point to weaknesses in Afghan forces and intelligence ahead of a withdrawal by most foreign combat troops to be completed by 2014.

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