At least seven people were killed and 20 others wounded when a suicide bomber detonated a car packed with explosives outside a bank in the capital city of Afghanistan’s Helmand province on Saturday, Afghanistan officials said.
Helmand governor’s spokesman Omar Zwak said the bomber detonated the car next to an Afghan army vehicle as soldiers arrived at a bank in Lashkar Gah to collect their pay.
Among the dead were four civilians and three soldiers. Sixteen civilians and four soldiers were wounded, he said.
No group has claimed responsibility yet, but the Taliban have seized large areas of Helmand and have often threatened Lashkar Gah.
Hundreds of international troops are stationed in Helmand as part of the NATO-led effort to train and support Afghan security forces, which have struggled to contain a growing insurgency.
At least one American special forces soldier was wounded in fighting there this week.
To the north of Lashkar Gah, a local official said that an American military air strike killed a number of civilians in a recent bombing in Sangin district. The allegation has not been independently verified.
U.S. military spokesman Captain Bill Salvin said that U.S. jets had conducted strikes in Sangin in the past few weeks.
While U.S. forces had “no evidence that civilians were killed in these strikes”, Salvin said the command would investigate the claims.
“We take every precaution to prevent and mitigate civilian casualties and we take every allegation seriously.”