Asia Crisis

At least 9 killed in south Afghan suicide attack

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, March 30 (Reuters) - At least nine people were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a community meeting in southern Afghanistan on Monday, the Afghan interior ministry said.

A government security official who did not want to be named said five Canadians along with some civilians were trapped under the rubble of a collapsed section of the community building, which has been closed-off by Canadian troops.

The attack occurred in Dand district in southern Kandahar province when the suicide bomber walked into the building and exploded his device, said Zalmay Ayubi, a spokesman for the provincial governor.

A police officer named Ahmadullah told Reuters NATO-led troops were attending the meeting. A spokesman for the alliance said it was aware of a bomb attack in Kandahar, but its forces were not involved.

The Afghan interior ministry said four civilians and five policemen were killed in the attack.

Some 70,000 foreign troops are struggling to crush an escalating Taliban-led insurgency and a further 21,000 U.S. troops are scheduled to be deployed in south and east Afghanistan, ahead of presidential elections in August.

The attack comes a day before the United Nations hosts a summit in The Hague on Afghanistan's future which will be attended by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and representatives from the United States, NATO countries and Iran.

Elsewhere, five insurgents killed themselves and wounded two others as they were planting roadside bombs in Sabri district in the eastern Khost province, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

In a separate incident in Paktia province, which neighbours Khost, three policemen were killed when their vehicle hit a roadside bomb in the Wazi Zadran district, the Interior Ministry said in a separate statement. (Reporting by Ismail Sameem; Writing by Golnar Motevalli; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)