Afghanistan's intelligence agency has said it has thwarted a plot to assassinate President Hamid Karzai after the arrest of a bodyguard and five people with links to the Haqqani network and al-Qaida.
The National Directorate of Security (NDS) told a news conference on Wednesday that the plotters had recruited one of Karzai's bodyguards in order to kill him.
"A dangerous and educated group including teachers and students wanted to assassinate President Hamid Karzai," spokesman Lutfullah Mashal said.
"Unfortunately they infiltrated the presidential protection system and recruited one of the president's bodyguards."
SEAL Team Six and Afghan guards
Mashal said that those detained had ties with a man named Haji Bilal, who was a member of al-Qaida and the Haqqani network based in Pakistan's tribal region of North Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan.
Karzai has been the target of at least three assassination attempts since becoming Afghan leader in 2002, most notably in April 2008, when insurgents fired guns and rockets at a military parade he attended near the presidential palace in Kabul.
The Haqqanis are one of three Taliban-allied insurgent factions fighting in Afghanistan and perhaps the most feared. They are thought to have introduced suicide bombing to the country and to be behind many high-profile attacks.
They have sworn allegiance to the Taliban, but have long been suspected of also having ties to Pakistan's spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate.
Nato-led forces fighting in Afghanistan said on Wednesday that an air strike had killed a senior Haqqani commander and two of his associates in eastern Khost province, near the Pakistan border.
US Navy SEALs protect Karzai in a 2002 assassination attempt
Dilawar, who was only known by one name, was a "principal subordinate" to Haji Mali Khan, whom Nato captured last week and said at the time was the top Haqqani commander for Afghanistan.
Dilawar's death is "another significant loss for the insurgent group", the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force said in a statement that described his responsibilities as including co-ordinating attacks on Afghan forces and arranging weapons deliveries.