KABUL - Afghan security forces have detained five insurgents who planned to use ten tonnes of explosives to inflict “large scale bloodshed” in crowded areas of the capital Kabul, an official said Saturday.

Three of the men are Pakistani nationals and two are Afghans, Shafiqullah Tahiri, a spokesman for the Afghan intelligence service, told reporters, adding that they had brought the explosives from Pakistan to Kabul.

Hidden in the back of a potato-laden truck, the explosives were intercepted in Kabul just two days before a wave of attacks in the capital and surrounding provinces on Sunday left over 50 dead, he later told AFP.

“If the explosives had been used, it could have caused large scale bloodshed,” Tahiri said.

“The detained men have told investigators that they planned multiple attacks in crowded areas of Kabul city using the explosives.” Kabul was hit by lethal attacks on Sunday, with embassies and foreign military bases coming under fire in what the Taliban said was the start of its spring offensive.

The attacks were one of the biggest assaults on the capital in 10 years of war in terms of their spread and coordination.

In September last year Taliban attacks targeting locations including the US embassy and headquarters of foreign troops in Kabul killed at least 14 during a 19-hour siege.

And in August, nine people were killed when suicide bombers attacked the British Council cultural centre.