Afghan officials investigate the site of a suicide bomb attack near a Shi'ite mosque in Kabul, Afghanistan March 9, 2018. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani
LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan - 23 March 2018: A car bomb in the southern Afghan province of Helmand killed at least 10 people and wounded 35 who had gathered on Friday for a wrestling match, officials said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast, which went off outside the match venue in the provincial capital Lashkar Gah and in front of a crowd that included the Helmand governor and local lawmakers.
The governor’s spokesman said the driver of the car detonated his bomb after he was prevented from entering the venue.
The Taliban controls large areas of Helmand, source of much of Afghanistan’s opium crop. But government forces, backed by heavy U.S. air strikes, have succeeded in preventing Lashkar Gah from falling and have made advances in some districts.
The city, which came under serious threat from the insurgents last year, had been relatively quiet in recent months following offensives by security forces.
However Friday’s attack, which followed a suicide blast in Kabul on Wednesday that was claimed by Islamic State, underlined the continued threat of violence across much of Afghanistan with the approach of spring, when fighting tends to pick up.
President Ashraf Ghani has offered to hold peace talks with the Taliban but there has so far been little sign the insurgents are willing to end their fight to drive out foreign forces and reestablish their version of strict Islamic law.
Reporting by Mohammad Stanekzai; writing by James Mackenzie; editing by John Stonestreet