At least four people were killed Saturday in a suicide car-bomb attack in Afghanistan's southern Helmand province that was later claimed by the Taliban, according to a local official.
Provincial Police Chief Abdul Rahman Sarjang told Anadolu Agency that the attacker had detonated his explosive-laden vehicle near a local police training center in Helmand's Nad Ali district.
"Three policemen were killed and five others, including two schoolchildren, were wounded," Sarjang said.
The Taliban soon claimed responsibility for the attack, asserting that at least 45 policemen had been killed by the blast.
"Another 37 policemen [under] commander Jabar Khan were wounded in the attack while undergoing training," Taliban spokesman Qari Yosuf Ahmadi said.
One Afghan security official told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity (due to restrictions on talking to media) that four local police personnel had been killed and another eight injured.
Several military and civilian vehicles -- and much of the training facility -- were reportedly damaged by the blast.
An Italian-run emergency hospital in the nearby city of Lashkargah, meanwhile, confirmed that at least 13 injured people had been admitted to the hospital.
Saturday's attack in Helmand comes following the launch by Afghan security forces of a large-scale military operation in the province.
According to Sarjang, the operation -- codenamed "Khanjar" -- began on Tuesday in Lashkardah, the provincial capital, and four other districts of Helmand.
"Over two dozen Taliban have been killed [so far]; the operation will go on until all the militants are eliminated," he said.
In April, a Taliban suicide bomb attack in Kabul, which was followed by a lengthy gun battle, left 64 people dead and nearly 400 others wounded.
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