At least five people were killed on Tuesday in a suicide bombing at a bank in the Afghan capital Kabul.
Eight people were wounded in the blast at a Kabul Bank branch that is close to the heavily protected US embassy, the Interior Ministry announced.
At the site of the blast, debris and twisted metal lay scattered on the pavement. The front side of the Kabul Bank was completely shattered and there was much damage to the fronts of several adjacent businesses. A charred motorcycle with its parts mangled lay on the street.
Mohammad Salim Rasouli, chief of Kabul hospitals at the Health Ministry said nine people were wounded in the attack. He warned that those were only initial reports and that the casualty toll could rise further.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which came as banks were busy with people taking out money ahead of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday at the end of the week, saying it had targeted soldiers and police withdrawing their salaries.
Attacks on banks where soldiers and police withdraw their salaries have become a regular tactic of the Taliban and the movement’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said several members of the security forces had been killed. There was no confirmation from the government.
President Ashraf Ghani’s government, facing growing public anger over insecurity in Kabul, has started tightening checks around the center of the city, where many of the most deadly attacks have taken place.
Tuesday’s attack is the latest in a long series of suicide attacks in Kabul highlight the danger in the city, where 209 civilians were killed and 777 injured in the first half of the year, according to UN figures.
In another development, at least 13 civilians, including women and children, were killed in an overnight airstrike by Afghan security forces that targeted the Taliban in western Herat province, according to Gelani Farhad, spokesman for the provincial governor.
Farhad told The Associated Press that the Monday night strike in Shindand district also wounded seven civilians. A Taliban base and a prison run by the insurgents were targeted, he said. The prison was destroyed and 19 prisoners — both military and civilians escaped. The civilians who were killed died in their homes just next to the Taliban base, he added.
According to the spokesman, the airstrikes also killed 16 Taliban militants. The Taliban have not commented on the Herat attack and Farhad’s information could not be independently verified.
The Taliban, fighting to drive out international forces backing the government in Kabul, have carried out many of the attacks. Other militant groups, including the affiliated Haqqani network and the local branch of ISIS, have carried out others.