KABUL — A Taliban suicide bomber struck at a bank not far from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, killing five people Tuesday as government employees lined up to withdraw salaries ahead of a religious holiday.
Meanwhile, there were conflicting reports on deaths from an airstrike that sought to target a Taliban command post outside Herat in western Afghanistan. Provincial officials said civilians were killed, but the Afghan Defense Ministry said Taliban militants were hit.
In the blast at Nawe Kabul bank, the Taliban said the suicide bomber targeted security forces waiting to withdraw cash ahead of Eid al-Adha, one of the holiest celebrations on the Islamic calendar.
A police official said that the bomber was shot as he attempted to make his way inside the bank but that he managed to detonate his explosives. The Interior Ministry said eight people were wounded in addition to the fatalities.
The target of the airstrike in Herat’s Shindand district was a Taliban command center. But local officials said civilians also were killed.
At least 13 civilians, including women and children, were killed along with 16 Taliban fighters, said Jailani Farhad, a spokesman for the governor.
A tribal chief from Herat, Ajab Gul, said at least 21 civilians, including women and children as young as 2, were killed.
“They belonged to three families, and there was no fighting or Taliban presence in the area at the time of the attacks,” he said. “The victims are poor farmers.”
The chief spokesman for the Defense Ministry, Gen. Dawlat Waziri, confirmed that Monday’s airstrikes were carried out by Afghan warplanes.
Images of bodies of several children and two women, apparently among the victims, were posted on social media.
The deaths in Kabul and in Herat are part of a recent increase and spread of violence in Afghanistan, where the Taliban and affiliates of the Islamic State militant group are leading separate insurgencies against the government and U.S. troops backing it.
On Friday, nearly 30 Shiite worshipers were killed in a commando-style attack in a mosque in Kabul.
The Islamic State asserted responsibility for the assault, which, according to analysts, was aimed at fanning sectarian violence in the country, devastated by nearly four decades of war and foreign interventions.