KABUL (Reuters) - A suicide bomb attack in the Afghan capital near a meeting of supporters of an influential regional leader on Thursday killed at least nine people and wounded many, the interior ministry said. Smoke billows above a building affected by explosion after a suicide bomb blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, November 16, 2017, in this still image from a social media video. Mahboob Atiqi via REUTERS It was not clear if the politician, Atta Mohammad Noor, governor of the northern province of Balkh and a leader of the mainly ethnic Tajik Jamiat-i-Islami party, was at the meeting at the time of the attack. Islamic State claimed responsibility, according to Amaq, its official news agency. The Taliban denied involvement. Political tensions are rising as politicians have begun jockeying for position ahead of presidential elections expected in 2019 and thousands of civilians have been killed in attacks this year. The bomber approached the hotel hosting the gathering on foot but was spotted by a police official, Sayed Basam Padshah, as he neared a security checkpoint, an interior ministry spokesman said. The attacker triggered his explosives vest before he could get any further, Kabul police chief Basir Mujahid told Reuters. People in the street stand outside a building affected by explosion after a suicide bomb blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, November 16, 2017, in this still image from a social media video. Mahboob Atiqi via REUTERSPadshah was among the seven policemen and two civilians killed. “He saved many lives by sacrificing his life,” Mujahid said. People escape through the back of a building after a suicide bomb blast in Kabul, Afghanistan, November 16, 2017, in this still image from a social media video. Mahboob Atiqi via REUTERS The northern-based Jamiat-i-Islami was for years the main opponent of the Taliban, who draw their support largely from the southern-based ethnic Pashtun community. A witness to Thursday’s bombing said: “We are proud to be martyred because of our country and our rights. This gathering was for the sake of our country to raise our voice.” In June, a suicide bomber attacked a meeting of Jamiat-i-Islami leaders, including Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah. Abdullah and other ethnic minority leaders, formed a coalition government with President Ashraf Ghani after a disputed 2014 presidential election. Ghani on Wednesday sacked the chairman of the Independent Election Commission, raising doubts over whether parliamentary and council ballots scheduled for next year will take place as planned.
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Updated Date: Nov 16, 2017 23:32:45 IST