KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (AP) — The Latest on developments in Afghanistan following the suicide car bombing in Helmand province (all times local):
Afghanistan’s Taliban claimed responsibility for a powerful suicide car bomb that killed at least 29 people, mostly civilians, on Thursday in southern Helmand province.
In an email, Qari Yusuf Ahmadi, said the Taliban carried out the attack but he denied that any civilians died, saying only Afghan National Security personnel died as they went to the bank to collect their salaries ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid al Fitr.
However, the provincial governor and police chief both said the majority of dead were civilians.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has condemned the suicide car bombing outside a bank in southern Helmand province that killed at least 29 people.
Though no one has taken responsibility for Thursday’s bombing, Ghani assailed unnamed nsurgents as enemies of Afghanistan with no respect for religion or for the holy month of Ramadan.
The bombing also killed soldiers and civil servants waiting to collect salaries ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.
Ghani says “these brutal terrorist attacks … prove that they have no respect for any religion or faith. They are enemies of humanity.”
Pakistan also condemned the attack. The foreign ministry said “we firmly stand with our Afghan brothers in this hour of grief and anguish.”
The governor of Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province has raised the death toll in the suicide car bombing outside a bank there to 29, saying most of those killed in the explosion were civilians.
Hayatullah Hayat, the provincial governor, says the attack on Thursday outside the Kabul Bank in the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, also wounded 60 people.
However, there were reportedly many Afghan National Army soldiers inside the bank at the time of the explosion. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing.
Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province has been at the center of bitter battles between the Afghan security forces, aided by NATO troops, and the Taliban, who are believed to control nearly 80 percent of Helmand’s countryside.
A local police chief in Afghanistan says a suicide car bombing targeted Afghan soldiers lining up outside a bank in southern Helmand province, killing at least 15 people.
Provincial police chief Gen. Agha Noor Kentoz says the attacker struck on Thursday in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital. He says at least a dozen people were wounded in the explosion outside a Kabul Bank branch.
People likely had gathered there to collect salaries ahead of the upcoming holiday of Eid al-Fitr.
Haji Moladad Tobagar, health director in Lashkar Gah, told The Associated Press that the hospital received 25 bodies after the attack, as well as 60 wounded.
He says he fears an even higher casualty toll as more victims were being brought in.