Attack leaves at least 20 dead in Afghanistan

The attack took place at 08:00 local time (03:30 GMT) in the city center.

At least 20 people died in an attack that occurred Thursday morning in the city of Kandahar, in southern Afghanistan, according to a hospital source.

“The Mirwais hospital received 20 dead since this morning due to the explosion,” the source declared anonymously.

Taliban authorities had previously claimed that three people died and 12 were injured in the attack targeting a bank, which they attributed to the Islamic State group.

“A suicide attack took place this morning in front of the New Kabul Bank. Three people died and 12 were injured,” Inamullah Samangani, director of the Information and Culture Department of Kandahar province, announced to AFP.

“According to initial information, the crime was committed by Daesh” (the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group), confirmed later the spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, Abdul Mateen Qani.

The Islamic State has not claimed responsibility for the attack yet.

“The ministry takes this crime very seriously. The criminals will be identified and brought to justice,” Qani added, ensuring that the toll had not increased from the initial announcement.

“The victims are civilians,” Samangani specified, adding that the attack had targeted people who came to collect their salaries at this bank in Kandahar, a historical stronghold of the Taliban.

The attack took place at 08:00 local time (03:30 GMT) in the city center. Authorities quickly closed the area and prohibited journalists from taking photographs and videos.

This private banking entity usually handles the distribution of military personnel salaries in Afghanistan and has been the target of several attacks by insurgent groups in the past.

The offices of this private bank are adjacent to the former Kandahar Security Command.

Security forces have been deployed to the area to investigate this incident, which occurred during the holy month of Ramadan.

So far, no armed group has claimed responsibility.

The Islamic State of Khorasan, the Afghan branch of the terrorist group, has emerged as the main threat to the country’s stability, although the Taliban insist on denying that the armed organization poses a security challenge.

Last January, at least two people died and twelve were injured by the explosion of a hand grenade in a neighborhood in western Kabul, inhabited by the Hazara Shia minority.

“The Mirwais hospital has received 20 dead since this morning due to the explosion,” said the source anonymously for fear of reprisals for speaking to the media.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Ministry of Interior said that a “preliminary report shows that this crime has been carried out by Daesh,” using another name for the jihadist group Islamic State (IS).

“Investigations are ongoing,” the Ministry of Interior spokesman Abdul Mateen Qani told AFP. “As soon as possible, the criminals will be identified… and punished for their actions.”

Inamullah Samangani, director of information and culture for Kandahar province, said the bank was busy with people collecting their salaries when the explosion occurred.

“Normally, our compatriots gather there to collect their salaries,” he said, adding that the “victims were civilians.”

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