Multiple casualties as car bomb hits bank in south Afghanistan

A auto bomb explosion took occurred in Lashkar Gah, Helmand province, in Southern Afghanistan, on Thursday, leaving dozens of dead and wounded, Afghan news agency Khaama reported.

"It happened at a time when civilians and officials had lined up outside the bank to collect their salaries", he added.

Local health official Haji Moladad Tobagar said the city's hospital received 25 bodies after the attack, as well as 60 wounded.

At least 34 persons, mostly civilians, were killed and 58 others injured on Thursday in a suicide vehicle bomb attack at the gates of a bank in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province capital city.

Calling for "complete independence of the country and establishment of an Islamic system", he warned against plans under consideration to increase the number of US troops in Afghanistan by up to 3,000-5,000.

The Taliban control vast areas of the province, a major centre of opium production that helps fund the insurgency, and have repeatedly threatened to seize Lashkar Gah. That conflict killed more than 50,000 civilians and gave rise to the Taliban.

Most terrorist attacks against the USA military, its Afghan counterpart, and civilians take place in provinces that border Pakistan such as Helmand and Kandahar.

A provincial government spokesman, Omar Zwak, told VOA some of those wounded "are in critical condition".

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but insurgent groups, including the Taliban and Daesh, have in the past targeted banks. Thousands of civilians and soldiers have died in recent years.

The Taliban has released a new video showing an American and an Australian captive they abducted last August, the second such footage of the hostages.

He said many children were among the casualities.

The Taliban leader also boasted that the movement is winning more respect from "mainstream entities of the world".

President Ashraf Ghani called the attack deplorable, and assailed the attackers as "enemies of humanity".

The attack in Lashkar Gah came as the United Nations and the Pentagon warned that the situation in Afghanistan keeps deteriorating.

The Taliban leader called on the U.S. to heed the "legitimate demands of the Afghan people", who he claimed to represent, and reach a negotiated peace instead.

The expected to deploy in additional 4,000 U.S. troops to join the 8,400 already in Afghanistan.

  • Leroy Wright