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Suicide Bomber Targets Afghan Military Convoy

A suicide car bombing Saturday killed at least seven people and wounded many others in Afghanistan’s embattled southern province of Helmand, officials said.

The Taliban insurgency took responsibility for the bombing, according to a spokesman for the group, who claimed army officers and soldiers were among the casualties.

The attack near a bank in the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah was aimed at an Afghan National Army (ANA) convoy, a provincial government spokesman told VOA.

Soldiers and civilians were among those killed and wounded, said Omar Zwak. He added that at least 21 wounded people have been sent to area hospitals.

The victims were collecting their salaries when the bomber hit a military vehicle with his explosives-laden car outside the bank, said the spokesman.

The Taliban insurgency controls most of the province and often claims suicide and other bombings against Afghan security forces.

Airstrike probe

Meanwhile, the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said Saturday it is looking into reports of civilian casualties from American airstrikes in another district of Helmand.  

Residents and Taliban insurgents in Sangin, the district center, alleged that the airstrikes Thursday night killed at least 20 civilians and wounded several others.

Provincial Governor Hayatullah Hayyat, accompanied by military and police commanders, told a joint news conference Saturday in Lashkar Gah that claims of civilian casualties were untrue.

He said the U.S. strikes targeted insurgent positions and killed nearly 60 Taliban fighters. Hayyat asked for proof from those claiming the attack caused civilian casualties.  

A U.S. military spokesman on Friday confirmed it carried out air raids against Taliban positions in the area, and it was looking into allegations of civilian casualties in the strikes.

“We are aware of the allegations of civilian casualties, and take every allegation very seriously,” a statement quoted the spokesman as saying.