Taliban suicide bomber kills civilians in Helmand

At least seven killed and dozens injured in Taliban-claimed suicide attack near police headquarters in Lashkar Gah.

    Authorities claimed that a group of police officers who had lined up to collect their pay had been targeted [Reuters]
    Authorities claimed that a group of police officers who had lined up to collect their pay had been targeted [Reuters]

    A Taliban suicide bomber killed at least seven people and wounded 42 others in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday, an official said, in an attack targeting police.

    "A suicide bomber detonated an explosive-filled car in a car park near the main police headquarters in Lashkar Gah," Omar Zhwak, a spokesman for the governor of Helmand province, told reporters.

    In addition to four soldiers, a girl and two women were among those killed, Zwak said, expressing fears that the death toll could rise further.

    Children were studying at a nearby mosque when the explosion took place, Zhwak said, adding they were injured in the violence.

    READ MORE: World reacts to Trump's new strategy on Afghan war

    Authorities said that a group of police officers who had lined up to collect their pay were the target, according to Al Jazeera's Jennifer Glasse, reporting from Kabul.

    "As there have been so many threats on Afghan banks that pay out government and security forces, there is actually a bank branch inside the police station," she said. "Police officers were lined up when the attack happened."

    Ismail Jan, whose shop was damaged by the blast, said the explosion happened when a white car rammed into a convoy of six armoured military vehicles as they passed through a checkpoint inside the car park.

    "I was thrown [by the blast], and when I got up I saw women and children covered in blood," Jan told the AFP news agency.  "I also saw a number of wounded children taken out of a nearby mosque."

    The Taliban effectively controls or contests 10 of 14 districts in Helmand.

    Intensified fighting

    Intensified fighting last year forced thousands of people to flee to Lashkar Gah from neighbouring districts.

    Early in July, an American soldier was killed, and two others were wounded in an attack in Helmand province while conducting operations against the Taliban.

    Since it launched an annual spring offensive in late April, the Taliban has been mounting lethal assaults on the Afghan army and police outposts in Helmand.

    The attack comes a day after US President Donald Trump announced that the US would continue fighting in Afghanistan to avoid the "predictable and unacceptable" results of a rapid withdrawal from the country.

    In response, the Taliban said that Afghanistan would become a "graveyard" for American soldiers.

    Trump did not provide the number of additional troops that would be sent to the conflict, the US' longest war, although US officials said before the speech they expected him to go along with a Pentagon recommendation for nearly 4,000 new troops.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    Survivor stories from Super Typhoon Haiyan

    The Philippines’ Typhoon Haiyan was the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Five years on, we revisit this story.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    We Are Still Here: A Story from Native Alaska

    From Qatar to Alaska, a personal journey exploring what it means to belong when your culture is endangered.