KABUL, Afghanistan -- A number of Afghan national army soldiers have been arrested inside the country’s defense ministry over a foiled suicide bomb plot, officials told NBC News.
The soldiers were held on Monday afternoon along with 11 suicide bomb vests in a guard box in the building in the capital, Kabul, army officials said on Tuesday.
Afghan news web site Khaama also reported the arrests, saying the incident raises fresh concerns over infiltration of militants among the country’s Afghan security forces.
There were no further details immediately available.
Tim Marshall, foreign editor of UK channel Sky News, said that the incident was serious, and showed that the Taliban are determined to chase NATO out of the country.
"The fact that these arrests took place within the walls of the defense ministry illustrates the level of insurgent penetration within the Afghanistan establishment and just tells you -- gives a signal of -- what is likely to happen when NATO leaves," he said.
The arrests came on the same day that at least three NATO service members were shot dead by Afghan security forces in two separate attacks.
March 12: The killing of 16 civilians by an American soldier has further enflamed tensions in Afghanistan. ITN’s Martin Geissler reports from Afghanistan.
A gunman wearing an Afghan army uniform killed two NATO troops in southern Afghanistan, while another was shot in eastern Afghanistan by an alleged member of the Afghan Local Police.
The attacks brought to 16 the number of NATO-led forces killed so far this year in what appeared to be attacks by members of Afghan forces.
Meanwhile, support for the war in Afghanistan has dropped sharply among both Republicans and Democrats, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll published Tuesday.
The survey found that more than two-thirds of those polled — 69 percent — thought that the United States should not be at war in Afghanistan, the New York Times reported.
Just four months ago, 53 percent said that Americans should no longer be fighting in the conflict, it said.
It added that the increased disillusionment was even more pronounced when respondents were asked their impressions of how the war was going. The poll found that 68 percent thought the fighting was going “somewhat badly” or “very badly,” compared with 42 percent who had those impressions in November.
The poll was conducted by telephone from March 21 to 25 with 986 adults nationwide.
Akbar Shinwari, NBC News in Kabul, and msnbc.com staff also contributed to this report.
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