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Suicide Bomber Kills 11 In South Afghanistan

KANDAHAR (Reuters) -- A suicide bomber has killed 11 people, including nine police officers, in southern Afghanistan, the Interior Ministry said.

The bomber was on foot and detonated explosives attached to his body in a group of officers outside the main police headquarters in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of Helmand, a local police official said.

Two civilians were also killed in the March 16 incident, the ministry in Kabul said in a statement. Another 29 people, many of them police, were wounded.

In a separate attack the same day in western Farah Province, a would-be suicide bomber armed with a grenade killed a police officer guarding a compound, an official said.

The bomber was shot dead by other police as he tried to enter the compound and blow himself up, the official said.

Afghanistan has faced spiraling violence since 2008 by Taliban insurgents who have made a comeback after being driven out of power by U.S.-led forces in 2001.

Since the weekend, nine foreign soldiers have been killed in a series of separate Taliban raids, the deadliest week for foreign forces in recent months in Afghanistan.

Some 70,000 foreign soldiers under the command of NATO and the U.S. military, along with tens of thousands of Afghans in government forces, are struggling to defeat the insurgents who have managed to spread the size and scope of their activities since last year.

The new U.S. administration plans to send an extra 17,000 soldiers this year to stabilise the country, which some Western politicians and analysts fear may slide back into anarchy.

U.S.-led troops overthrew the Taliban government after it refused to hand over Al-Qaeda leaders wanted by Washington for masterminding the September 2001 attacks on the United States.

With the surge of violence and rising casualties among their troops, some Western states are reluctant to send their soldiers into areas where the Al-Qaeda-backed group is most active.