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At Least 16 Killed, Dozens Wounded In Kandahar Blast

A cloud of smoke is seen after an explosion in Kandahar on May 22.
A cloud of smoke is seen after an explosion in Kandahar on May 22.

At least 16 people have been reported killed and more than 30 wounded in an explosion in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, as the Taliban pushed ahead with their annual spring offensive across the country.

There was some confusion about the cause of the May 22 blast.

Daud Ahmadi, a spokesman for Kandahar Province's governor, and a police spokesman said that explosives packed in a minibus detonated as security forces were trying to defuse it.

However, the National Directorate of Security (NDS) intelligence service said the explosives were discovered in a large open yard of workshops but went off before they could be defused.

Authorities at Kandahar's Mirwais hospital said the dead and wounded included both civilians and members of the Afghan security forces.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Kandahar Province is a major center of opium cultivation and a stronghold of the Taliban.

Meanwhile, in the eastern province of Ghazni, officials said on May 22 that at least 14 police officers were killed in several attacks by the militants.

Provincial council member Hassan Reza Yusufi said that seven officers were killed in one attack in the Dih Yak district, among them the police chief of the district, Sayedullah Tofan, and a reserve police commander.

Arif Noori, a spokesman for Ghazni's governor, said another seven officers were killed in the Jaghatu district.

Yusufi said the attacks started late on May 21 and fighting was still under way on May 22 in the Dih Yak, Jaghatu, Ajristan, and Qarabagh districts.

Latifa Akbari, the head of the provincial council in Ghazni, confirmed that Taliban fighters attacked a number of checkpoints in Dih Yak and Jaghatu and there were more than 20 casualties among members of the security forces.

A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attacks. Zabihullah Mujahid claimed the Jaghatu district headquarters was captured as well as police checkpoints in Dih Yak.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and dpa