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Karzai says plot to assassinate spy chief hatched in Pakistan

Afghan leader Hamid Karzai in Kabul said an assassination attempt on the nation’s spy chief was planned in Pakistan.

MSHID/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Afghan leader Hamid Karzai in Kabul said an assassination attempt on the nation’s spy chief was planned in Pakistan.

KABUL— Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday that the recent assassination attempt on the country’s intelligence chief was planned in Pakistan, but vowed it would not stop him from seeking Islamabad’s help in coaxing militants to the negotiating table.

The attack, conducted by a suicide bomber posing as a peace messenger, severely wounded Asadullah Khalid, dealing a setback to fragile efforts to reconcile with the Taliban and find a political resolution to Afghanistan’s war, now in its 12th year.

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Karzai did not provide evidence for his claim that the attack on Khalid was organized in Pakistan, and he was careful not to accuse Islamabad of having a role in Thursday’s suicide blast. But he stressed that he would raise the issue with high-ranking Pakistani officials.

‘‘We will be seeking a lot of clarifications from Pakistan because we know that this man who came there in the name of a guest to meet with Asudullah Khalid came from Pakistan,’’ Karzai said. ‘‘We know that for a fact.’’

The Pakistani foreign affairs ministry said in a statement that the Afghan government should share information or evidence it might have about the attack before it levels accusation. The ministry also offered to help the Afghan government investigate any lapses it had in the intelligence chief’s security.

‘‘Pakistan is ready to assist any investigation of this criminal act,’’ it said.

Karzai said Khalid, the head of the National Directorate of Security, was recovering from wounds to his torso and lower body after the bomber detonated explosives that he had hidden inside his body. The Afghan intelligence agency said earlier that the explosives were hidden in the bomber’s underwear.

Karzai described the attack as ‘‘a very sophisticated and complicated act by a professional intelligence service.’’

‘‘Where is this intelligence service? Is it in our neighborhood, or somewhere else? We need to find out,’’ he said.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack on Khalid — the fifth attempt on his life in as many years.

The blast was reminiscent of the September 2011 assassination of former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who at the time was leader of a government-appointed peace council. In that attack, an insurgent posing as a Taliban peace envoy detonated a bomb hidden in his turban as he met Rabbani at his Kabul home. Afghan officials have said that the Rabbani killing was planned in the city of Quetta in Pakistan.

Pakistan is seen as a key player in the Afghan peace process. Islamabad has ties to the Taliban dating to the 1990s, and many of the group’s leaders are thought to be held or living in Pakistani territory.

Despite his claims that the attack was planned in Pakistan, Karzai said it would not deter him from pursuing dialogue with the country. He also reiterated his request for Islamabad to release Afghan Taliban figures who have expressed an interest in reconciliation with his government.

Karzai said it was the third attack on key Afghan figures that came since his government appeared to be gaining traction on peace efforts.

In July 2011, Karzai’s half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, was shot and killed by a close associate in Kandahar, the largest Afghan city in the south.

The United States and Afghanistan have accused Islamabad of ongoing support for the Taliban. Pakistan has denied that, but many analysts think the nation continues to see the group as an ally in Afghanistan to counter archenemy India.

The United States and its allies fighting in Afghanistan hope for a peace deal with the Taliban as international combat troops finish their campaign by the end of 2014. But obstacles remain, and it is unclear if the Taliban will take part in the process, rather than just wait until foreign forces withdraw.

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