Suicide truck bombing kills at least 5 people, wounds 62 in southern Afghan province

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KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — A suicide truck bombing killed at least five people and wounded 62 in southern Afghanistan on Monday, officials said.

The truck struck at the gate of the provincial council's compound in Zabul province's capital of Qalat, council director Atta Jan Haqbayan said.

Three of the wounded were council members, including two women, and children were also among the wounded, Haqbayan said. Mirwais Noorzai, Zabul's police chief, said the attacker used a small truck in the bombing.

President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack in a statement. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Insurgent activity in Zabul, which borders Pakistan, has intensified in recent months.

The province has also seen a number of kidnappings, especially of minority Hazara Shiite men, raising fears that Afghanistan's war may be taking on a sectarian element.

Also Monday, three policemen were killed in neighboring Kandahar province when a firefight erupted between two groups of officers, said provincial police spokesmen Zia Durrani.

Four of the officers involved in the fight in Maiwand district fled the scene, said Durrani, adding that the incident was under investigation.

And in western Farah province, Gov. Asif Nang said rival insurgent groups had been fighting each other for three days, leaving at least 25 dead on both sides.

Nang said the fighting in Khaki Safed district was between the Taliban and a group that identified itself as an Islamic State affiliate. He said 10 of those killed were identified as Taliban insurgents and 15 as having aligned themselves with IS.

Nang provided no further details.

The Taliban have been fighting to overthrow the Kabul government since their own regime was ousted in the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

The Islamic State group is believed to have a presence in Afghanistan, mostly in the south. Afghan and foreign officials differ on how widespread and operational the group's presence is but most agree it is growing.

Meanwhile, in northern Sari Pul province, police said the body of a local official in charge of religious affairs, Abdul Wodod, was found on Monday, three days after he was kidnapped. Gen. Habib Gulbhary, the provincial police chief, said Wodod was kidnapped by unknown assailants in Sozma Qala district.

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