NEW: Taliban claim responsibility for attack
Civilians and police among victims of suicide car bombing
At least 30 people were killed Thursday in a car bomb attack outside a bank in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province, officials said.
In a statement to journalists, Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said the group was behind the attack.
A suicide bomber driving an explosive-packed car targeted the New Kabul Bank branch in Lashkar Gah, said Omar Zwak, a spokesman for Helmand province.
“Both civilians and police are among the victims who had gone to the bank to collect their salaries,” said Mohammad Karim Atal, the head of the local provincial council.
About 60 others were injured during the blast and were hospitalized, Zwak said.
Helmand province has been the site of intense conflict between the Taliban and Afghan and NATO security forces. Thousands of civilians and soldiers have died in recent years.
The province borders Pakistan and is one of the world’s largest producers of opium, which the Taliban harvest to finance their war efforts.
Other car bomb attacks have struck Lashkar Gah.
CNN’s Ralph Ellis contributed to this report.