Five suspected militants accused of planning suicide car bombings in Kabul were killed on Thursday in a five-hour gun battle with Afghan security forces, the Afghan intelligence agency said.

"Agents with the National Directorate of Security surrounded a house the five had rented in Kabul’s eastern district of Pul-e-Charkhi shortly after midnight and asked them to surrender, they refused and opened fire, a gunbattle ensued” agency spokesman Lutfullah Mashal said.

The agency called the house “a sanctuary of suicide bombers and terrorists” who were planning car bombings around Kabul.

The battle lasted five hours and killed five people inside the house, where weapons that included rocket launchers and suicide vests were found and seized, the agency said.

Mr. Mashal said three explosives-packed vehicles were also found at the house and were being defused. “Another part of their plan was to seize a tall building in central Kabul and launch an attack,” he said.

Hashmat Stanikzai, a Kabul police spokesman, said five militants were killed and one arrested in the operation.

The raid and arrests followed an attack in April in which dozens of militants launched three simultaneous attacks in the capital that lasted 18 hours. They seized buildings under construction and fired on a diplomatic enclave, the parliament and an army base.

Militant attacks rose 11 per cent across Afghanistan in the second quarter from the same period a year ago, NATO said last week.

The Taliban announced a summer offensive in May, saying they would target cities, government and military buildings, and officials related to the administration.

The Taliban in a statement denied any link to the men killed in Thursday’s operation.

Separately, in southern Afghanistan, two soldiers serving with the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force were killed on Thursday in a roadside bombing, the alliance said.

It did not release details about the nationalities of the soldiers or the location of the attack, according to a policy in which soldiers’ home countries retain the authority to publish such information.

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