18 killed in Afghanistan suicide attack

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At least 18 people were killed today when a suicide bomber struck outside the compound of a southern Afghan provincial governor.

The dead included several Muslim pilgrims seeking paperwork to travel to Mecca.

The attacker was stopped by Afghan soldiers at the compound's security gate in Lashkar Gah where the bomber detonated his suicide vest, said Ghulam Muhiddin, spokesman for the Helmand provincial governor.

Nine Afghan soldiers and nine civilians were killed, said Rahmatullah Mohammdi, director of the hospital in Lashkar Gah. Seventeen people were wounded, he said.

The governor, Mohammed Daoud Safi, was inside the compound and was not injured in the attack.

Among the civilians waiting outside the compound were Afghan pilgrims seeking permission to travel to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, Muhiddin said. The main mosque in Lashkar Gah sits across from the compound.

Today's suicide attack was the deadliest in Afghanistan since August 28, when 21 civilians were killed in Lashkar Gah by a bomber targeting an ex-police chief.