South Asia

Deadly car bomb blast in Kandahar outside aid offices

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Media captionThe aftermath of the attack in Kandahar

At least five people have been killed by a suicide car bomb explosion in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar.

Officials said an explosive-laden vehicle was driven into a checkpoint in a neighbourhood housing the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR).

The agency said that three of its staff were killed in the attack. An Afghan policeman was also killed.

The area also houses the offices of US-based International Relief and Development (IRD).

Five people, including a guard, were wounded in the attack.

A call from the Taliban said their target was the UNHCR.

One attacker detonated the vehicle before three others entered the joint compound, provincial police chief Abdul Raziq told the AFP news agency.

He said the attackers had locked themselves up in a veterinary clinic and fired on the security forces before they themselves were shot dead after a stand-off lasting more than six hours.

"Fighting is over, all the attackers are dead. Search operations are ongoing," Mr Raziq said.

The UNHCR has been working in Afghanistan since the 1980s, overseeing the return of millions of refugees from Pakistan and Iran to Afghanistan.

In a statement after the attack, the agency's high commissioner, Antonio Guterres, said that the functioning of its Kandahar office had been seriously disrupted.

"This is a tragedy for UNHCR and for the families of the dead and wounded. It also underscores the great risks for humanitarian workers in Afghanistan," he said.

Kandahar is the largest city in the south of Afghanistan and the birthplace of the Taliban, who have been fighting against Nato troops since they were removed from power by the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

On Saturday, a suicide car bomber killed 13 troops and civilian employees of the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) in Kabul.

The dead included Americans, British and a Canadian.

It was the deadliest single ground attack against the coalition forces in 10 years of war in Afghanistan.

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