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Suicide bomber targets Kabul Bank branch

Entrance to Kabul Bank branch close to US embassy targeted, resulting in at least five deaths, according to officials.

Kabul Bank branch

A suicide bomber has blown himself up at a bank in the Afghan capital, killing at least five people and wounding several others, officials say.

The bomber hit the entrance to a Kabul Bank branch close to the US embassy and the city's main diplomatic quarter, Najib Danish, an interior ministry spokesman, said on Tuesday.

The front side of the Kabul Bank was completely shattered and there was much damage to the fronts of several adjacent businesses. A charred motorcycle with its parts mangled lay on the street.

Danish said at least five people were killed.

The attack also wounded nine, said Mohammad Salim Rasouli, chief of Kabul hospitals at the Health Ministry. He warned that the casualty toll could rise.

The blast occurred on a street lined with shops and banks at a time when many officials were collecting their salaries before the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday at the end of the week.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. 

Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the group, said the bomber targeted a section of the bank where soldiers and police were waiting to receive their salaries. 

In another development, at least 13 civilians, including women and children, were killed in an overnight air attack by Afghan security forces that targeted the Taliban in western Herat province, according to Gelani Farhad, spokesman for the provincial governor.

Farhad told The Associated Press news agency that the Monday night attack in Shindand district also wounded seven civilians. A Taliban base and a prison run by the fighters were targeted, he said.

The prison was destroyed and 19 prisoners - both military and civilians - escaped. The civilians who were killed died in their homes just next to the Taliban base, he added.

According to the spokesman, the air attacks also killed 16 Taliban fighters.

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

READ MORE: Trump vows US will keep fighting in Afghanistan

Tuesday's blast was the latest in a long series of suicide attacks in Kabul, where 209 civilians were killed and 777 injured in the first half of the year alone, according to figures by the UN.

It came three months after a massive truck bomb ripped through the same area, killing at least 150 people.

President Ashraf Ghani's government has started tightening security around the centre of the city, where many of the most deadly attacks have taken place.

Earlier this month, the Taliban pledged to turn Afghanistan into a "graveyard" for foreign forces after US President Donald Trump committed American troops indefinitely to the war there.

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