KABUL - Afghan authorities on Tuesday said “regional spy agencies” were behind a rare suicide attack targeting Shias that killed more than 80 people in a veiled reference to Pakistani intelligence.

Attorney General Eshaq Aloko said two men had been arrested over the December attack, which struck a crowd of worshippers on Ashura, in Kabul.

Aloko said the attack was planned in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar, by “regional spy agencies” aimed at “provoking sectarian violence”. “Although the Jhangvi group claimed responsibility, it was masterminded by some spy agencies in our neighbouring countries,” Aloko said. The prosecutor said one of those arrested came from Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, which borders Pakistan’s tribal belt, and was paid 10,000 Pakistani rupees to bring two suicide attackers to Kabul.

“One attacker blew himself up, the second fled the area.”