International troops continue to battle anti-government fighters but see co-operation
with locals as a key step to expanding Kabul's grip over Afghan territory [Gallo/Getty]

An Indian engineer and six Afghan policemen have been killed in a suicide attack in western Afghanistan, officals say.

The blast on Thursday in the Khashrud district of Nimroz province was the first suicide bombing this year.

According to Ghulam Dastgir Azad, Nimroz's governor, the attack left 11 policemen and two Indian engineers wounded in addition to the fatalities.

Azad said: "At this point we know that an Indian engineer and six policemen have been killed in the suicide bombing.
  
"First they detonated a bomb hidden in a motorbike on the side of the road. When police came to see what's happening, a suicide bomber came up and blew himself up among them."

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Refugee crisis

In another development, the Afghan government has asked Iran to delay a decision to expel or punish more than a million Afghan refugees living in the country without proper documents.   
  
Tehran has said that refugees living in Iran without proper papers could be arrested and detained in camps for up to five years.
  
Sultan Ahmad Baheen, the Afghan foreign ministry spokesman, said the government was not "formally" told about the move.
  
Baheen said: "We have not formally received what [has been reported] in media. But we believe what is being said in media is not consistent with what we have agreed over."
  
"We hope that those decisions are not executed at least during the freezing months of the winter."
   
Meanwhile, in the country's east, thousands of Pakistanis fleeing fighting between Pakistani troops and pro-Taliban fighters have entered Afghan territory, officials said.

Musa Qala toll

Also on Thursday, Afghan defence ministry officials said more than 200 fighters were killed in last month's operation aimed at retaking the southern town of Musa Qala from Taliban control.
  
At least 17 Taliban commanders were among the dead following the military operation, the ministry said.
  
General Mohammad Zahir Azimi, a senior defence ministry spokesman, said: "This is an assessed death toll. Now we know that over 200 Taliban were killed within the frame of operation Musa Qala.

"Seventeen of them were Taliban commanders."

Azimi said that at least four civilians were also killed in the fighting.
  
Afghan military forces backed by the mainly British Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), captured Musa Qala in December.

The international force has said two Isaf soldiers were killed in the conflict.

Afghan forces backed by international forces recaptured the southern town of Musa Qala
from Taliban control in December, killing many Taliban commanders [Gallo/Getty]

Source: Agencies