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Suicide Bomber Kills 9 in Southern Afghanistan


Afghan officials say nine people are dead, including five police officers, in an attack on a government compound in southern Afghanistan.

Authorities say a suicide bomber walked into the government complex just south of the city of Kandahar Monday and detonated the explosives.

Six people were also reported injured.

Reporters at the scene, from the Associated Press and the French News Agency, say Canadian soldiers and Afghan police quickly surrounded the bombed building.

Kandahar province is considered a stronghold of the growing Taliban insurgency.

Afghan officials also say five militants were killed Monday while planting roadside bombs in Khost province, while a roadside bomb blew up a police vehicle in Paktia province, killing three officers.

In an interview on U.S. television Fox News Sunday, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the U.S. must focus on reversing the Taliban's momentum and strengthening the Afghan army and police.

U.S. President Barack Obama unveiled a new U.S. strategy for the region last week, which includes plans to send another 4,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. Those forces would be in addition to 17,000 U.S. troops due to be sent to Afghanistan in the coming months.

Meanwhile, a former high-ranking Afghan Taliban commander told the Reuters news agency that 95 percent of Taliban insurgents are willing to lay down their arms if the government ensures their security.

But Mullah Abdul Salam, who switched allegiance in 2007, said the Afghan government is not yet strong enough to provide that security and many insurgents fear being killed for defecting.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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