A SUICIDE bomber blew himself up yards from York MP Hugh Bayley as he visited Afghanistan.

Mr Bayley had travelled to Kabul last week for the first task in his new two-year role as president of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly when the blast happened.

Two security guards were killed when the bomber struck near NATO’s Afghan HQ, which Mr Bayley was visiting.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which is believed to have been targeted at a nearby CIA office in the heavily fortified diplomatic zone.

Mr Bayley was in Kabul to check progress on the transfer of security responsibilities for Afghanistan’s armed forces and police.

He said: “The explosion happened a couple of hundred yards away from where I was at the time – although I didn’t see it, I certainly heard it.

“We had been talking to one of the top military commanders and somebody came in and immediately gave him a briefing on the attack, and everything stopped for a time while the security situation was assessed. It is shocking that somebody can be brainwashed into doing such a thing and sacrificing their life.

“It brought home to all of us the very difficult circumstances and the danger our military personnel and civilian staff there are working and living under. They are doing a very important job in incredibly difficult conditions”

Despite the suicide attack last Wednesday, Mr Bayley said he was optimistic about Afghanistan’s future and believed the Afghan army and police would be a “formidable force” when they take control of security. But he said the country’s presidential elections must have “legitimacy” and NATO had a key role to play in ensuring that.

He said: “It needs to be an election which generates confidence among the Afghan people, and whoever is elected must have good support, otherwise the political leadership necessary for the country to combat terrorism will not be there.

“The military can reduce the risk of terrorist attacks, but the only solution for Afghanistan is a political solution and a consensus around a government which has the support of the majority of the people.”