A car bomb explosion outside a bank in the Afghan city of Lashkar Gah in southern Helmand province has killed dozens of civilians and soldiers who were waiting at a bank to collect their pay.

The Helmand governor’s office said that at least 29 people had died and more than 60 were wounded in the attack at midday local time on Thursday, as people queued for wages ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday, which begins on Friday.

Emergency workers and volunteers tried to pick out the injured from the dead among dozens of bodies strewn across the street, ferrying them to local hospitals in makeshift ambulances and civilian cars.

Lashkar Gah’s health director Haji Moladad Tobagar told the AP he feared the death toll would rise as more casualties arrived at medical centres. Most of the dead are civilians, he added.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Spokesperson Qari Yusuf Ahmadi claimed a higher death toll and stated that no civilians, and only soldiers, had been hurt. The authorities immediately disputed the insurgency group’s claim.

Both the Taliban and Isis have in the past targeted bank branches where police, soldiers and civil servants collect wages. Continue reading.