Kabul: Security guards on Sunday shot dead a suicide bomber who tried to assassinate Afghan Interior Minister Bismullah Khan in an area north of Kabul, a spokesman for the Ministry said.

The failed attempt on Khan, who once fought against the Taliban, comes as the north of Afghanistan -- an area over the past decade relatively insulated from the insurgency -- has seen an uptick in violence.

The attacker attempted to detonate his explosives on a convoy of cars sent in advance of the minister's vehicle, perhaps thinking Khan was inside, as he was being taken to visit the Panjshir valley, said spokesman Siddiq Siddiqui.

"I can confirm a failed assassination attempt on the Minister, a suicide bomber was involved, no casualties," said Siddiqui.

He said the Minister had wanted to go to Panjshir – a stronghold of anti-Taliban resistance hit by its first suicide attack in the war last week -- and a convoy of four cars had been sent in advance as a security measure.

"In Sayed Khail (a district of Parwan province) a suicide attacker runs toward this convoy, but gets shot by bodyguards before being able to detonate himself," said Siddiqui.

"The Minister was in another convoy around 15 or 20 minutes behind the first convoy."

The spokesman said the attacker was in his early 20s and was injured in the shooting, and later died from his wounds.

Khan is an ethnic Tajik former anti-Soviet commander who fought the Taliban alongside Afghanistan's northern hero Ahmad Shah Masood and was appointed to the interior ministry post in June last year.

(Agencies)