Islamic State Group Claims Responsibility for Bombing at Afghan Bank and Says it Targeted Taliban

ISLAMABAD (AP) -- The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a deadly bombing that targeted people trying to collect their salaries at a bank in southern Afghanistan. The bombing Thursday at a branch of New Kabul Bank in Kandahar city killed three people and wounded 12 others.

All of the victims had gathered there to collect their monthly salaries, said Inamullah Samangani, head of the government's Kandahar Information and Culture Department.

Abdul Mateen Qani, spokesman for the Taliban Interior Ministry, said the target of the attack was civilians and the victims were local people. He said an investigation is continuing.

The Islamic State group's affiliate, a major Taliban rival, has conducted attacks on schools, hospitals, mosques and Shiite areas throughout Afghanistan.

The militant group said in a statement posted on its news agency, Aamaq, late Thursday that the suicide bomber detonated his explosive belt among Taliban gathered near the bank to receive their salaries.

Kandahar city is a spiritual and political center for Afghanistan's rulers because the Taliban's supreme leader, Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada, is based there and his decisions on major issues are implemented by authorities in Kabul, the capital.

The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in 2021 during the chaotic departure of U.S. and NATO troops after 20 years. Despite initial promises of a more moderate stance, the Taliban have gradually reimposed a harsh interpretation of Islamic law, or Shariah, as they did during their previous rule of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.