KABUL, Afghanistan -- A suicide bomber attacked a provincial governor's compound Saturday in northern Afghanistan, killing at least four Afghans, including a senior police commander, officials said. NATO said international forces were among the casualties but did not immediately give details.
The explosion happened as officials were meeting in the governor's office complex in Takhar province, according to Lal Mohammad Ahmadzai, a regional spokesman for the Afghan National Police who was attending the meeting when the blast occurred.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the late afternoon attack. 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.
Among those killed was Gen. Daood Daood, 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 provincial police chief Gen. Shah Jahan Noori, a secretary to the governor, and one of Daood's bodyguards, the health director said.
He said 10 Afghans were wounded: Governor Abdul Jabar Taqwa, who suffered burns to his head, hands and back; a cameraman working in the governor's office; and eight members of the Afghan national security forces.
The health director said a number of NATO troops were also wounded and were taken to a military base. He could not provide details.
Maj. Tim James, a spokesman for the U.S.-led international military coalition, said "initial reports indicate there have been a significant number" of casualties among members of the international coalition and Afghan national security forces. He could not provide details.
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 neighboring 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.