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Afghanistan’s spy agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), has busted a 10-member Chinese intelligence cell that was operating in Kabul, the Hindustan Times reported on December 25 citing Afghan diplomats and security officials.
The outlet said the uncovering of the cell was a huge embarrassment for Beijing, which is now persuading the Afghan government to keep the case secret.
“The 10 Chinese citizens, detained recently in this connection by Afghanistan’s NDS on charges of espionage and running a terror cell, are believed to be linked to China’s spy agency, the Ministry of State Security,” the Hindustan Times reported.
The crackdown by the NDS reportedly started on December 10. One of the first cell members to be arrested was Li Yangyang. He has been allegedly working for the Chinese intelligence since July-August.
In Yangyang’s house in the western Kabul neighborhood of Kart-e-Char, NDS officers seized arms, ammunition and Ketamine powder, a recreational drug.
The operative was tasked with gathering information about al Qaeda, Taliban and Uyghurs in Kunar and Badakhshan provinces. According to the Hindustan Times, the Chinese cell’s members were allegedly linked to the Haqqani Network linked with the Taliban.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani was reportedly briefed about the Chinese intelligence cells. The President authorized First Vice President Amrullah Saleh to oversee the investigation and engage in talks with the Chinese side over the issue.
Saleh held a meeting with the Chinese envoy to Afghanistan, Wang Yu, and briefed him about the detention. Saleh allegedly told the envoy that the Afghan government could consider to pardon the detailed members if Beijing submits a formal apology.
Afghan officials told the Hindustan Times that the NDS is now working to ascertain the precise activities of the Chinese intelligence cell. Possible links to Pakistan’s deep state are also being investigated.
China and the NDS have not made any official comment on the Hindustan Times’ report, thus far. The issue will likely be solved behind closed doors.
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