KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber detonated explosives strapped to his body Sunday, killing himself and five Afghan intelligence officers who only moments before had arrested him and placed him in their sport utility vehicle near Kabul's international airport.
The Taliban, which ruled this rugged country before its ouster two years ago by the United States, claimed responsibility for the attack, Agence France-Presse news agency reported. A Taliban spokesman identified the suicide bomber as a 35-year-old Chechen and said that 60 other suicide bombers had entered the capital and were planning to target foreigners, according to the agency.
Sunday's suicide bombing came as the loya jirga, or grand assembly, drew to a close after 15 days of heated debate over a new constitution.
The assembly was held amid fears that fundamentalists who favor strict Sharia, or Islamic law, might attempt to disrupt the gathering. The draft constitution calls for a moderate Islamic state.
Hundreds of soldiers and intelligence officers have been patrolling the site of the loya jirga, which has been cordoned off inside an area with a 1 1/4-mile radius. Before the debate began, the Taliban released a statement declaring that if it could not strike the loya jirga, it would make its point by carrying out attacks in other parts of the city.
Sunday, a group of loya jirga delegates from the southern provinces that serve as bases for Taliban insurgents pleaded for the United Nations to protect them with security when they return home. The delegates said Taliban supporters threatened to kill them for participating.
The assembly had proceeded with no serious security problems. In the last two weeks, up to seven rockets had been fired at various points in the capital. On Christmas Day, a United Nations compound wall was destroyed, but no one was hurt.
Kabul police chief Gen. Baba Jan said the suicide bomber was arrested by intelligence officials from the Ministry of Defense about 5 p.m. Sunday. It was not clear why he was detained. As the man was driven away, he detonated explosives strapped to his body, killing all the occupants of the vehicle.
Twisted metal and charred body parts littered the grounds of the airport, where hundreds of peacekeeping troops from the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, are based.
"Our people have experienced bitter years of war and are tired of it," said Ayoud Salangi, commander of Kabul's military garrison. "Those who are hoping to destabilize the country are not Afghan, and they will not be allowed to do so by the people."
Last week, seven men carrying identification cards belonging to the terrorist group Hizb-i-Islami, or Islamic Party, were arrested in Kabul, Salangi said. The men also carried pictures of Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
The Taliban spokesman, identified by Agence France-Presse as Abdul Samad, said the suicide bomber had planned to carry out an attack at the ISAF base at the airport.
"The second option was if he could not reach the base, he would target ISAF patrols or other coalition vehicles driving on that road, but he was arrested by Afghan security [so] he carried out the suicide attack," Samad was quoted as saying.