At least 29 people were killed and over sixty injured following a suicide car bombing targeting Afghan soldiers lined up outside a bank in southern Helmand province, according to Afghanistan Governor in Helmand, as reported by AP. Afghan Provincial police chief Gen. Agha Noor Kentoz said the attacker struck on Thursday in Lashkargah, the provincial capital, adding that several were wounded in the explosion outside the branch of Afghanistan’s Kabul Bank. A spokesperson for Provincial Governor Omar Zwak told local news agency TOLO News that “civilians and military are among the wounded.” The blast took place at about 12 noon local time.
Speaking to the Associated Press, Lashkargah health director Haji Moladad Tobagar said that the hospital received 25 bodies after the attack, as well as 60 wounded. Reports say people could have gathered in large numbers outside the bank inorder to collect their salaries as well as withdraw money ahead of the upcoming holiday of Eid al-Fitr. According to Tobagar, the death toll could well rise as more victims were being brought in to the hospital by emergency services. While earlier reports had said that gunmen stormed the New Kabul Bank, the spokesperson said that “the security guards of the bank started shooting after the incident.” Emergency workers and passersby lent a helping hand to the injured, who were lying on the ground among the dead. Ambulances and some private cars ferried the victims to various hospitals.
Today’s attack comes a day after a militant attack inside a mosque killed two members of the local council. Salim Sallhe, spokesman for the provincial governor in Logar, said gunmen opened fire at worshippers during prayers at a mosque in Baraki district on Wednesday night. Two other local officials were wounded by the gunfire. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, denied the insurgents were behind the shooting. While high-profile attacks in the capital, Kabul, have drawn headlines, there have been dozens of similar incidents in provincial
Kabul has drawn headlines several times for high-profile attacks, but there have been similar incidents in provincial centres across the country over recent months. Helmand, one of the world’s major centres of opium growing, and a traditional heartland of the Taliban, has been under particularly heavy pressure with large parts of the province in the hands of the insurgents.
This is a developing story, more details are awaited.