Afghan blast kills top police general, injures NATO commander

A suicide bomber wearing a police uniform blew himself up during a meeting at a provincial governor's compound Saturday in northern Afghanistan, killing two NATO troops and four Afghans and wounding the top German commander in the country, officials said.

2 NATO troops among dead in suicide bombing at governor's compound

Afghan policemen inspect the outside of the governor office in Takhar province on Saturday. The Taliban took responsibility for the suicide bombing. (Reuters/Wahdat)

A suicide bomber wearing a police uniform blew himself up during a meeting at a provincial governor's compound Saturday in northern Afghanistan, killing two NATO troops and four Afghans and wounding the top German commander in the country, officials said.   

Two German troops were killed and three wounded, including Gen. Markus Kneip, the NATO force's commander for northern Afghanistan, German Defence Minister Thomas de Maiziere said Saturday night in Berlin.

The bomber detonated his explosives vest in a room in the governor's office complex in Takhar province where high-ranking Afghan officials were meeting with members of the international coalition, said Faiz Mohammad Tawhedi, a spokesman for the governor. The governor, Abdul Jabar Taqwa, suffered burns to his head, hands and back.   

"What we know is the guy who carried out the attack had a police uniform on," Tawhedi said. "How he entered the meeting room and why he was not searched, we don't know."

German Gen. Markus Kneip, right, takes a walk with German Defence Minister Thomas de MaiziereMarch in Mazar-e-Sharif, Afghanistan, The German military says Kneip, NATO's top commander in northern Afghanistan, was wounded Saturday by a suicide bomb attack. (Michael Kappeler/Associated Press)

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the late afternoon attack.

Among those killed was Gen. Daud Daud, police commander in northern Afghanistan, said Dr. Hassain Basech, health director of the province. Daood was a former deputy interior minister for counternarcotics and a former bodyguard of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the charismatic Tajik leader who commanded the Northern Alliance and died in an al-Qaeda suicide bombing two days before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks that provoked the U.S. invasion.

The others killed were Gen. Shah Jahan Noori, provincial police chief; a secretary to the provincial governor; and one of Daood's bodyguards, the health director said.

He said another nine Afghans were wounded including a cameraman working in the governor's office and eight members of the Afghan national security forces.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said it was part of the insurgency's assassination campaign against high-ranking government officials. The bombing also was meant to undercut a military offensive the Afghan National Army was planning to launch in the north, the Taliban spokesman said.

NATO bolsters troops in the north

Violence has been on the rise in the north, where there are known hide-outs for the Taliban, al-Qaeda and fighters from other militant factions, including the Haqqani network, Hizb-i-Islami and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. NATO has sent more troops to the north and has been pushing harder into militant-held areas.

In October 2010, a bomb killed Kunduz Gov. Mohammad Omar and 19 others in a crowded mosque in Takhar province. Omar was killed just days after he warned of escalating threats from Taliban and foreign fighters in the north.

In February, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to an Afghan government office in neighbouring Kunduz province, killing at least 30 people, including many who were waiting in line to obtain government identification cards. At least 40 others were wounded in the blast.