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Afghanistan: Defense Ministry Suspects Hezb-i-Islami In Bomb Attack

Kabul, 9 April 2002 (RFE/RL) -- Afghanistan's Defense Ministry says militants from the fundamentalist Hezb-i-Islami party are the primary suspects in yesterday's apparent assassination attempt against Defense Minister Mohammad Fahim. Fahim's chief of staff, Kerramuddin, told RFE/RL today that investigators think there is a link between the bomb attack on Fahim's motorcade in Jalalabad and the arrest earlier this month of 160 Hezb-i-Islami members loyal to former Afghan Prime Minister Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.

"The arrests that were recently made in Kabul were groups from Hekmatyar's intelligence -- which are committing acts of sabotage. The attempt [against Fahim] in Jalalabad also was most probably the work of Hezb-i-Islami intelligence networks."

Kerramuddin says there are several suspected motives behind yesterday's attack. Among them, he said, are the goals of derailing Afghanistan's UN-backed political transition process and preventing the scheduled return of former King Zahir Shah later next week.

Officials today said police in Jalalabad have made a series of arrests in connection with yesterday's explosion. But formal charges have not been filed. The blast killed four people and injured 18 others. Fahim was not injured.