Three Italians suspected in plot to murder Afghani Governor were arrested
by Hani Kaddah
Nine people, including three Italian aid workers and six Afghan workers have been arrested in Afghanistan’s Helmand province for possessing armed explosives in attempt to carry out the assassination of Gulab Mangal, the provinces’ governor.
Suicide bomb vest, hand grenades, explosives and pistols were found in medical boxes in a storage room in the hospital.
The suspects were arrested last Saturday in a hospital in the province’s capital, Lashkar Gah. The hospitals are run by a Italian charity named Emergency.
These hospitals are present to treat any patients who seek medical assistance at no cost. Emergency has a tense relationship with local authorities because they treat all patience including those who are suspected to be Talbian.
Military officials have stated that NATO forces were not involved in the raid. British Special Forces allied with Afghan local forces organized the raid after having been tipped off about a plot to kill the governor.
A British bomb disposal team was on site after finding the explosives. “The hospital is now safe” a British spokesman said to Associated Press
Cecilia Strada, the head of the Emergency organization, told Al Jazeera that their arrests are completely groundless.
“We ask that you respect their rights, first of all, the right to communicate with us and let us know where they are and what their condition is,” Strada said to Al Jazeera.
In a statement on the charity website Emergency states that “The only contact we have been able to make has been through one of the employee’s cell phones answered by someone who identified himself as a British military official. This person notified us that the Italians were well, but unavailable to speak at the time.”
Daoud Ahmadi, the governor’s spokesman informed the Times that “all nine people detained have confessed to have links with Al-Qaeda and to have smuggled explosives disguised as medical supplies”
“The detainees had planned to launch a series of suicide attacks in the town bazaars to then wait for the governor to visit the wounded in the hospital to finally assassinate him” Daoud Ahmadi said to Times.
Gulab Mangal, the governor of Helmand told the reporters that the operation was financed by the Afghan Taliban in Pakistan, offering $500,000 to carry out the assassination.
The Italian ambassador has flown to Leshkar Gar in an attempt to defend the accused Italians.