Car bombing in southern Afghanistan kills at least seven people

Dozens injured in bombing targeting governor's office in Helmand province

A car bombing Wednesday killed at least seven people and left dozens more injured in southern Afghanistan, officials said.

The late-morning bombing targeted the office of the governor of Helmand province.

Mohammad Jan Rassoulyar, acting deputy governor, said the car bomber crashed his vehicle into the exterior of the building in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital.

Among the 41 injured were Mohammad Omar Zowak, spokesman for the provincial governor, and other local officials.

Provincial officials said the attack took place at about 11 a.m. during a meeting to address the presence of Islamic State militants and an increase in kidnappings in the province.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing, the third in the city in the past week.

The head of the elected provincial council, Mohammad Karim Atal, told reporters that a Mazda truck crashed into the side of the building facing his residence. A man and his son were among the dead and two of Atal’s bodyguards were wounded in the explosion, Atal said.

Several houses in the area and a compound belonging to a nongovernmental organization were also damaged.

The Afghan government confirmed this week that Islamic State, the militant group based in Iraq and Syria, had fighters inside Afghanistan. Helmand has been cited by many reports as a province where the group has been actively recruiting.

In February, Mullah Abdul Rauf, a former Guantanamo detainee and Taliban commander who had been recruiting for Islamic State, was reportedly killed in the district of Sangin. His successor was killed this month in an operation carried out by Afghan security forces.

The attack came as Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani briefed lawmakers on the state of proposed peace talks with Taliban insurgents.

Abdul Salam Rahimi, chief of staff to President Ashraf Ghani, said this week that Kabul was hopeful about the prospects for peace but that talks between the government and armed opposition have yet to take place.

“We are currently in the process of trying to ensure a meaningful process,” Rahimi said.

Latifi is a special correspondent.

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