Afghan police seized a lorry packed with explosives hidden under boxes of tomatoes in Kabul, officials said on Sunday, averting a potentially deadly blast months after a massive truck bomb killed or wounded hundreds.
Police shot and wounded the driver of the vehicle, carrying 30 yellow and orange plastic drums filled with explosive material and two bombs weighing 100 kilogrammes each, after he failed to stop at a security checkpoint late on Saturday, the interior ministry said.
"The driver wanted to flee with the truck from a police checkpoint but the police shot him. The driver was wounded and the truck stopped," the ministry said in a statement.
A Western security source told AFP that each 20-litre drum contained ammonium nitrate, which is also used to make fertiliser. The containers were connected by yellow electric cables, photographs showed.
The only thing missing was the device to detonate the explosives, he said.
Three police officers who stopped the truck have been rewarded with 30,000 Afghanis ($440) each and a promotion, acting Interior Minister Wais Barmak told reporters.
"The truck wanted to enter the centre of the city and target some government installations," Barmak said.
"Anyone who shows courage to protect our people will be rewarded," he said, adding more than a dozen other officers would also receive cash and promotions.
Security in the Afghan capital has been ramped up since May 31 when a massive truck bomb ripped through the city's diplomatic quarter, killing about 150 and wounding around 400 people, mostly civilians.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack -- the deadliest in the city since 2001 -- which Western officials say was caused by more than 1,500 kg of explosives packed in a sewage truck.
The government has blamed the Taliban-allied Haqqani Network for the bombing. Taliban militants rarely claim responsibility for attacks that kill large numbers of civilians.
Following outrage over the attack authorities increased the number of police checkpoints in the diplomatic zone and installed special barriers to prevent trucks from entering the centre of the city.
Scanners to check lorries wanting access to the area where embassies and international organisations are located were also being used.
In August Afghan intelligence seized a truck in Kabul carrying more than 16 tonnes of explosives hidden in boxes marked as poultry feed.
But despite the enhanced security insurgents have continued to cause carnage in the capital.
In the most recent major attack a suicide bomber disguised as a shepherd blew himself up near a Shia mosque in Kabul last month and killed six people.
Ordinary Afghans have borne the brunt of the 16-year insurgency, with more than 26,500 civilians killed and nearly 49,000 wounded as a result of armed conflict since January 2009, according to UN figures.
Attacks involving suicide bombers have been particularly deadly.
Between January and September 1,584 civilians were killed or wounded in such incidents, the UN says, accounting for 20% of all civilian casualties over the nine-month period.