By Shadi Khan Saif
KABUL, Afghanistan (AA) - Authorities in Afghanistan on Sunday claimed to have arrested the main perpetrator behind a July 20 rocket attack on the presidential palace that made a number of top officials, including Vice President Amrullah Saleh, flinch in fear.
Interior Ministry officials said special units of police arrested the mastermind and three accomplices of the attack carried out during prayers on the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
Ministry spokesman Mirwais Stanekzai said the men had been detained in a targeted operation on the outskirts of the capital Kabul. Stanekzai said the main perpetrator was a Taliban member named Momen, adding that he had been involved in several targeted terrorist attacks in the Paghman district of Kabul, as well.
The spokesman also said that the rest of the detainees were also members of the Taliban.
There was no immediate reaction from the Taliban to these arrests. However, pro-Taliban accounts last week celebrated the shelling on the presidential palace.
For their part, the Taliban on Friday issued a stern warning against recent US air strikes in support of the Afghan forces to stem recent advances by the insurgents.
The Taliban also expressed concern on President Ashraf Ghani's recent remarks on bringing peace and order in the coming six months.
Ghani said last week that a strategy to bring security to the war-ravaged country had been chalked as the Taliban seem unwilling to make peace.
Flanked by Afghan politicians and top government officials, Ghani made these remarks as he delivered a traditional Eid al-Adha speech after offering prayers despite the rocket attacks.
Calling for comprehensive nationwide support for democracy, Ghani said all Afghans must unite behind their security forces for at least six months to make the Taliban understand their demands.
"The Taliban are not abiding by their promises. They have not showed up for meaningful talks, but speaking via 'sword'," said Ghani, voicing regret for the release of 5,000 insurgents in line with the US-Taliban deal back in February last year.