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Women and children among dead following Afghan strike targeting Taliban

Afghan security guard walks in front of Kabul Bank after a suicide bombing in Kabu Picture: Rahmat Gul/AP

At least 13 civilians, including women and children, were killed in an overnight air strike by Afghan security forces targeting the Taliban in western Herat province, an Afghan official said.

Gelani Farhad, spokesman for the provincial governor, said the attack in Shindand district also injured seven other civilians.

He said the target of Monday night's strike was a Taliban base and a prison run by the insurgents. The jail was destroyed and 19 inmates – both military and civilians – escaped.

Mr Farhad also said the civilians who were killed died in their homes adjacent to the Taliban base.

According to the spokesman, the air strikes also killed 16 Taliban militants.

The Taliban have not commented on the attack in Herat province and Mr Farhad's information could not be independently verified.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday morning, a suicide bomber killed at least five people in a busy commercial area of central Kabul, not far from the US embassy, Afghan officials said.

Basir Mujahid, spokesman for the Kabul police chief, said the explosion was probably targeting a branch of the privately-owned Kabul Bank. The US embassy compound is about 500 metres down the road from the Kabul Bank.

Mohammad Salim Rasouli, chief of Kabul hospitals at the Health Ministry, confirmed that nine other people were injured in the attack, according to initial reports.

No-one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, but the Taliban often target banks, especially at the end of the month when civil servants and military personnel queue up to receive their salaries, or ahead of major Muslim holidays.

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