South Asia

Bomb in Afghan city of Kandahar kills at least three

Policemen stand near vehicles damaged in Monday's bomb attack
Image caption Shops, buildings and vehicles were destroyed in the blast

At least three people have been killed and about 20 wounded in a car bomb explosion in the centre of the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, police say.

The dead were police officers, teachers and other officials who had lined up outside a bank to collect their salaries, officials told the BBC.

Some reports say that the car was driven by a suicide bomber.

Kandahar is a Taliban stronghold and has seen some of the worst fighting this year between militants and Nato.

The blast went off outside the Kabul Bank - the country's largest bank - which pays the salaries of public servants.

''We have blocked all roads going towards and away from the bank in the centre of the city," an intelligence source told the BBC.

"We knew that the enemy wanted to attack this location. We had done all we could to prevent it from happening.''

A local businessman at the scene described hearing "a big bang before everyone started running".

"Bank guards and the police were firing in the air after someone shouted there was a suicide attacker in the crowd," he said.

A security official told the BBC that if the bomber had succeeded in getting closer to the bank there would have been far more casualties.

"We know this because a lot of nails and other metals were used in his bomb. Most of those injured were hurt by glass and pieces of metal from the vehicle which the attacker used,'' he said.

The BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul says that Monday's attack is the latest in a series against institutions serving Afghan security forces.

Our correspondent says that the attacks come as the government steps up efforts to recruit Afghans into the police and army - two key institutions that will eventually take over from foreign forces in Afghanistan.

Intelligence officials say that because the Taliban have recently lost many senior commanders in Nato special forces operations, they are increasingly hitting "soft targets".

Monday's explosion destroyed shops, buildings and several police and army vehicles.

No-one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

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