Two German soldiers also killed in a blast that took the life of a powerful Afghan police chief.
Major General Markus Kneip, who commands Nato forces in the northern part of Afghanistan, received wounds that were severe but not life-threatening. Very few high-ranking international military officers have become casualties in Afghanistan since the conflict there began in 2001.
General Mohammed Daoud Daoud was a controversial and powerful figure who had served as deputy minister of the interior for narcotics before being posted as police chief in the north. He was a former bodyguard of the guerrilla leader Ahmed Shah Massoud who was killed by suicide bombers in 2001.
A Taliban spokesman said that "killing high-ranking officials will continue ... They will not achieve their aims."
Mujeebullah Rahman, the deputy director of the local council in the province of Takhar, where the attack took place, told the Observer that it happened at around 4pm when a meeting called to discuss local security operations was ending. "The bomber was waiting in the corridor, wearing the uniform of an Afghan policeman," Rahman said, raising concerns that local security forces had been infiltrated.
The attack capped a bloody 48 hours in which 11 international servicemen were killed in the south of the country. Forty-four Nato soldiers have been killed so far this month, which is traditionally the start of the summer fighting season. Nearly 200 have died this year. Two Royal Marines died when a hidden explosive device was triggered near their patrol on Friday. The attack on the offices of the governor of Takhar is one of the more audacious recent operations by insurgents.
This is a smart move by the Taliban; start bringing the war home to European countries and they will wilt in the heat. Most of NATO has already indicated in one way or another that they want out. This is the surest way to speed up that process.