Image: Picture of a Pakistani national
Ahmad Masood  /  Reuters
A picture of a Pakistani man who Afghan officials say is part of a group of suicide bombers is shown on a projector at a news conference in Kabul on Tuesday.
updated 2/3/2009 6:49:58 AM ET 2009-02-03T11:49:58

The Afghan intelligence service has broken up a cell of suicide bombers allegedly responsible for six attacks in Kabul that killed 20 civilians, a spokesman for the agency said Tuesday.

Agents arrested 17 people who were involved in the suicide attacks in the capital over the last two years, said Sayed Ansari, the spokesman for the National Directorate of Security.

Three others are still on the run and believed to be in neighboring Pakistan, he said.

The breakthrough came following an attack outside a U.S. military base in Kabul on Jan. 17, when a suicide bomber killed four Afghan civilians and a U.S. soldier, Ansari said.

Insurgents use suicide bombings against Afghan and foreign troops, but the number of such attacks have decreased in 2008 compared to a year before. The majority of the victims in such attacks have been civilian.

Ansari said 124 civilians were also wounded in the six attacks allegedly organized by the group.

Those arrested had links to a Pakistani-based jihadist group, Harakat ul-Mujahedeen, and Sirajjudin Haqqani, an insurgent leader in eastern Afghanistan, Ansari said.

Harakat ul-Mujahedeen has in the past acted as a proxy for the Pakistani military against India over the disputed state of Kashmir, but have more recently sided with Taliban-style tribal militants to fight Pakistani security forces in the border regions.

Haqqani, meanwhile, leads a group of fighters battling American troops in eastern Afghanistan. The U.S. military has a $200,000 bounty out on Haqqani, who is believed based in Pakistan's North Waziristan tribal region.

More on Haqqani   |  Kashmir

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