Authorities in Afghanistan said Monday at least five people were killed and more than 60 wounded when a suicide bomber drove his explosives-packed vehicle into the gate of a government building in the southern province of Zabul.
The deadly bombing targeted the provincial council’s office in Kalat. Police say women and children are among the victims, adding the blast also wounded several council members. Afghan media quoted hospital officials as saying some people have been seriously wounded.
The United Nations has already expressed its deep concerns about the rise in civilian casualties in Afghanistan, and has documented more deaths and injuries among Afghan civilians so far this year than during the same period of 2014.
Taliban insurgents have intensified attacks on government installations and security forces in recent weeks. They have also seized territory in northern and northeastern parts of Afghanistan.
The New York Times reports Afghan security forces are taking casualties at an alarming rate and are struggling to counter the Taliban’s so-called spring offensive.
The paper quotes a Western security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, as saying, “In the first four months of 2015, more than 1,800 soldiers and police officers were killed in action, and another 3,400 were wounded.” Those casualties are more than 65 percent higher than the amount during the same period last year, the official added.
As Afghan casualties increase, U.S. and allied forces are transitioning from a combat role to a support mission. More than 2,300 American soldiers and more than 1,000 coalition soldiers have been killed in 14 years of warfare in Afghanistan.
U.S. troops stationed in the country held services to remember their fallen comrades as they marked the U.S. Memorial Day holiday Monday.