updated 3/30/2009 8:00:39 AM ET 2009-03-30T12:00:39

A suicide bomber wearing a police uniform blew himself up inside a police headquarters in southern Afghanistan on Monday, killing nine people and wounding eight others, an official said.

Five officers and four civilians died in the attack in Dund district, about 10 miles south of Kandahar city, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

Canadian soldiers and Afghan police stood guard at the blast site and ordered journalists not to take photos, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene. A spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force said he would investigate the report.

The Canadian soldiers refused to let Afghan police approach the blast site, the reporter said.

Kandahar is the spiritual birthplace of the Taliban and continues to be a militant stronghold. Afghan police frequently suffer from Taliban attacks from roadside and suicide bombs.

A roadside bomb also killed three police in the eastern province of Paktia on Monday, the ministry said.

Taliban attacks spike
Taliban attacks have spiked the last three years, as militants have taken control of wide swaths of countryside. President Barack Obama is sending 21,000 additional American troops to bolster the record 38,000 already in the country. In total, there are 70,000 international forces in Afghanistan, including U.S. troops.

Afghanistan's police, who have less training and equipment than their army counterparts, are seen as a weak link in the country's security structure. Police officers have suffered the brunt of militant attacks, and hundreds have died in bombings and ambushes over the last year.

Training and equipping the Afghan security forces is one of the key elements of the exit strategy for the U.S. and other Western troops.

Days after President Barack Obama's administration unveiled new plans for tackling the deteriorating situation here, officials from more than 70 countries are attending a conference in the Netherlands on Tuesday focusing on Afghanistan.

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