A suicide car bomb exploded outside a bank in the city of Lashkar Gah (Helmand province) around noon (local time) on Thursday, June 22. At least one gunman subsequently opened fire, prompting fighting with security forces. The blast occurred as many people were collecting their salaries ahead of the Eid holiday weekend. Preliminary reports state that at least 29 people were killed in the blast and more than 50 others wounded. The casualty toll is likely to rise in the coming hours. There has been no claim of responsibility yet, but the Taliban or the Islamic State (IS) are the likely culprits.
Multiple attacks have already been carried out in the country during the ongoing holy month of Ramadan. Three explosive devices detonated at a funeral in the Khair Khan district of the capital Kabul on June 3, killing at least 20 people and wounding 35. On May 31, a bomb exploded near the German Embassy and the Afghan presidential palace located in the Wazir Akbar Khan area at the center of Kabul’s highly secured diplomatic “Green Zone.” Over 100 people were killed and another 400 wounded in the attack. The bomb was reportedly delivered via a water tanker and contained over 1500 kg (3300 lb) of explosives that left a 7 m (23 ft) deep crater.
Typically, there is a heightened terror threat during this period in Afghanistan; IS has in the past called on members to perpetrate attacks during Ramadan and some regional terrorist groups have followed suit. Furthermore, the Taliban, widely present in the region, announced the official start of their yearly spring offensive in late April.
Individuals in Lashkar Gah are advised to monitor the situation and to avoid the blast area.
As always, due to major security concerns individuals throughout Afghanistan are urged to keep a safe distance from large gatherings, military convoys, government buildings, and crowded urban areas. Many Western governments advise their citizens against travel to Afghanistan due to the high threat of kidnapping and terrorism, including frequent attacks against Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, local civilians and politicians, and individuals working in the humanitarian and reconstruction fields. Travel to the country should only be undertaken with proper security protocols in place.
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