Eight dead in Afghan suicide attack

A suicide bomber killed eight people and injured four others in an attack on the governor's office in a north-eastern province of Afghanistan today.

Meanwhile, a mortar was fired at a building where Nato and Afghan officials were attending the inauguration of the country's largest police training centre in central Afghanistan.

The two attacks, which occurred at about the same time, were a stark reminder that insurgents can strike anywhere in the volatile country.

Provincial spokesman Halim Ayar said the bomber blew himself up about 220 yards (200m) from the office of Governor Azizul Rahman Tawab in Kapisa province. He said four of the dead were police officers and four were civilians. All the wounded were civilians, he added.

The Interior Ministry said in a statement that seven people were killed, including two police officers and five civilians. It added that seven others were injured, including a police officer.

The discrepancy in the casualty numbers, which is common in the aftermath of such attacks, could not immediately be resolved.

"The leadership of Ministry of Interior of Afghanistan condemns this inhumane and cowardly suicide attack," the ministry said in a statement after the Kapisa attack. "Such attacks will never weaken the determination of the Afghan National Police."

Meanwhile, in central Wardak province, a mortar landed next to a large building where Afghanistan's second vice president, Mohammed Karim Khalili, and Interior Minister Bismullah Khan Mohammadi, along with Nato officials, were cutting the ribbon on the flagship centre of a multibillion-dollar Nato programme to train Afghan national security forces ahead of a planned withdrawal of US-led coalition forces at the end of 2014.

The deafening blast shook the building and more than 300 police recruits dived for cover. Gunshots rang out after the attack. Bodyguards rushed Afghan and Nato officials into a hardened shelter before evacuating them in helicopters.

The area has seen increasing attacks by insurgents as the Taliban presses a spring campaign against Afghan and Nato forces.

It was unclear if Mr Khalili was the intended target of the attack, but the mortar seemed to be targeting the building where he had just finished delivering an address.

The 106 million dollar facility currently houses 725 recruits but will expand to 3,000, making it the largest of its kind in the country. A mostly US funded programme has been spending about 10 billion dollars a year in 2010 and 2011 alone to train, equip and build infrastructure for a range of Afghan forces, including police, soldiers and an air force. That programme calls for increasing the number of Afghan police to 134,000 by October from the 81,509 of two years ago.

Also today, in southern Kandahar city, a bomb explosion wounded four civilians in the Aymo Mina district, said provincial police chief General Abdul Raziq. The target of the bomb was unclear.