A suicide bomber targeting a police commander has killed at least 13 people, including nine civilians, in Afghanistan's northern Parwan province, an official said.

The attack on Monday happened near a clinic and a bazaar in an area 60 kilometres northwest of Kabul, said Zaman Mamozai, the provincial police chief.

Four local police were among those killed, and another 19 people, including 17 civilians, were wounded, he said.

 Widespread corruption in Afghanistan despite reform promises

The police commander who was targeted in the attack was among those wounded.

"Once again, a Taliban suicide bomber attacked innocent civilians," Mamozai said, adding that the bazaar was packed with shoppers and that people were waiting outside the clinic for treatment.

The Taliban claimed responsibility in an email sent to media.

The United Nation's mission in Afghanistan reported earlier this month that most of the 11,000 civilians killed and wounded in 2015 were the victims of insurgent attacks.

A total of 3,545 civilians were killed last year as a result of the war, the UN report said, with another 7,457 wounded.


READ MORE: Afghan peace process - desperation versus strength


The figures mark a 4 percent drop in civilian deaths from the previous year, but a 9 percent rise in civilians wounded. Taliban fighters regularly target Afghan security forces, often killing civilians in the process.

'Army retreated'

Elsewhere, in the country's south, Afghan troops have retreated from two districts in the Helmland province, officials said on Monday, a move which highlights the challenge from Taliban fighters in the opium-producing region.

"The Afghan army retreated from two army bases in Musa Qala and one base from Nawzad district" on Saturday, provincial governor Khan Rahimi told AFP news agency, leaving no troops anywhere in those districts.

 UN: More than 11,000 Afghans killed in 2015

He said the soldiers had moved to other parts of Helmand such as the heavily contested districts of Lashkar Gah and Sangin, adding: "We have no concerns regarding this step, but we have plans to ensure security in other vulnerable areas."

But the decision was criticised by Abdul Majeed Akhundzada, deputy chief of the provincial council.

"Retreating from Musa Qala looks to me like ignoring the deaths of Afghan security forces and the civilians," Akhundzada said.

Helmand has seen some of the fiercest battles of the Taliban's battle against local and foreign forces that began in 2001.

Source: Agencies