One of the most powerful men in North Afghanistan, the Aghan Police chief Dawood Dawood got killed when a suicide bomber attacked on Saturday, reported Reuters.

The attack underlined the spread of insurgent violence in once peaceful parts of the country and casted a shadow over plans for Afghans to take control of security. A provincial chief along with at least two Afghan policemen and two German soldiers also died in the attack on political and military leaders, Afghan and NATO officials said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for Saturday's attack, saying they were target ting top regional leaders.

At the time of the attack, a meeting was going on in the capital of northern Takhar province to discuss an operation against insurgents. At least 10 people were injured, including the provincial governor, said the governor's spokesman Faiz Mohammad Tawhidi.

NATO's commander for the northern region, German Major General Markus Kneip, was among the wounded but not seriously hurt, General Rainer Glatz told reporters in Berlin.

The most high-profile casualty was General Dawood Dawood, police chief of north Afghanistan, a former deputy interior minister and before that a close associate of Mujahideen commander Ahmad Shah Masood.

The loss of such a prominent and influential leader comes as a major blow to a force which is struggling to professionalize and rebuild a lost reputation for abuse and corruption as foreign forces prepare to hand over security responsibilities in coming years.

He had been an active opponent of the growing insurgent movement in the north, promoting state-sponsored armed self-defence groups known as the Afghan Local Police and organizing campaigns against the Taliban.

On the day of his death he held a news conference announcing the start of operation Hope, which aimed to throw off the insurgents from Takhar and neighbouring Kunduz, where they have only gained a strong foothold in recent years.

Takhar was once so peaceful that there is no major permanent base for foreign troops there. German troops supervise the area from a base in neighboring Kunduz province. However, violence has risen sharply in recent months with the insurgency gathering strongholds in northern areas, said the report.

A mosque bombing last October killed the governor of Kunduz, while he was attending Friday prayers. Earlier this week at least 14 people were killed in violent protests about a night raid by foreign forces.