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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Taliban suicide bomber kills seven in Afghanistan

The attack near the police headquarters in Lashkar Gah wounded dozens of others, mainly children

Afghan security officials inspect the scene of a suicide bomb attack near the police headquarters in Lashkar Gah on August 23, 2017. EPA
Afghan security officials inspect the scene of a suicide bomb attack near the police headquarters in Lashkar Gah on August 23, 2017. EPA

A Taliban suicide bomber killed at least seven people and wounded dozens of others, mainly children, when he detonated a car filled with explosives at a police headquarters in southern Afghanistan on Wednesday.

It was the insurgents' first major attack since US president Donald Trump announced in Washington late on Monday that he was committing American troops to the country indefinitely.

"A suicide bomber detonated an explosive-filled car in a parking lot near the main police headquarters in Lashkar Gah," Omar Zhwak, a spokesman for the governor of Helmand province, told Agence France-Presse.

Initial reports showed that those killed included a small girl, two women and four soldiers, Mr Zwak told Associated Press, expressing fears the death toll could rise further.

Forty-two people were also wounded, mostly civilians, he added.

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The car park was full of people queuing to get into the police headquarters when the explosion happened, said Mr Zhwak.

He added that a nearby mosque, which was being used as a madrasa, had been damaged. Children were studying there at the time.

The attack occurred a little over 24 hours after Mr Trump cleared the way for thousands more US soldiers to be sent to Afghanistan, reversing earlier pledges to pull out.

The Taliban had called for a complete withdrawal of foreign forces and following Mr Trump's announcement vowed to make the war-weary country a "graveyard" for US forces.

The militants quickly claimed Wednesday's attack in a text message sent to journalists.

Read more: Taliban dismiss Trump's Afghan strategy as 'nothing new'

Ordinary Afghans have paid a heavy price for the 16-year US-led war.

Civilian deaths are at their worst since records began in 2009. In the first half of the year, 1,662 civilians were killed and more than 3,500 injured, according to the United Nations.

The resurgent Taliban have been ramping up their campaign against government forces.

Casualties among Afghan security forces soared by 35 per cent in 2016, with 6,800 soldiers and police killed, according to US watchdog Sigar.

More than 2,500 Afghan police and troops were killed from January 1 to May 8 of this year.

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