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Suicide bomber kills six at Afghan governor's compound

The bomber, wearing an Afghan army uniform, attacked a security gathering in Afghanistan's Takhar province. The dead include two senior Afghan police commanders and two German soldiers; among the injured are the provincial governor and the NATO commander in northern Afghanistan.

May 29, 2011|By Laura King, Los Angeles Times
  • Afghan police stands guard at the scene of a suicide bomb attack targeting the governor's compound in Takhar province.
Afghan police stands guard at the scene of a suicide bomb attack targeting… (Naqeeb Ahmed, EPA )

Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber struck a security gathering in Afghanistan's north on Saturday, injuring a provincial governor and the German commander of foreign troops in the region, and killing at least six people — including two senior Afghan police commanders and two German soldiers, Afghan and coalition officials said.

The bombing, which took place inside the heavily guarded governor's compound in Takhar province, was the latest deadly strike by insurgents against government installations in the weeks since the Taliban movement declared the start of its spring offensive.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force confirmed that two Western soldiers were killed in the attack, and German media, citing defense officials, said the dead soldiers were German. The media reports said Gen. Markus Kneip, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization commander in northern Afghanistan, was wounded.

The deaths, together with two others in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, added to a high toll of foreign troops killed in recent days. Eight Americans were killed Thursday in Kandahar province by a pair of powerful homemade bombs.

As in several previous attacks, the assailant was dressed in an Afghan army uniform, witnesses said. It was not immediately known whether he was a member of the Afghan security forces or was wearing a stolen uniform. Attacks by Afghan police and soldiers against their Western mentors are on the increase; last month, an Afghan air force officer killed eight Americans.

Saturday's attack seemed certain to inflame antiwar sentiment in Germany, where the Afghan conflict has become a major political issue. Germany has 5,000 troops serving here, nearly all of them in the north, which has grown steadily more violent over the last two years. Several insurgent groups have become entrenched in a swath of provinces, including Takhar.

Takhar's capital, Taloqan, was the scene of a deadly clash this month between demonstrators and Afghan police backed by German troops. At least 11 protesters were killed during rioting that broke out hours after a U.S.-led night raid on a residential compound left four people dead, including two women. The Western military described the four as armed insurgents; local officials said they were civilians.

One of the police officials killed in Saturday's bombing was identified as the northern regional commander, Gen. Mohammad Daud Daud, who was a well-known figure from the Northern Alliance, which helped oust the Taliban government a decade ago. The other was provincial police chief Gen. Shah Jahan Noori.

Takhar's security chief, Abdul Salaam, said the other Afghans killed included members of the governor's staff.

Senior police and security officials are prime targets for the Taliban and other insurgent groups. The provincial police chief in Kandahar was killed last month by a suicide bomber, and the deputy chief of Afghanistan's main intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security, escaped an assassination attempt last week.

laura.king@latimes.com

Special correspondent Hashmat Baktash contributed to this report.

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