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Afghan official says suicide truck bombing kills at least 5, wounds 62 in southern province

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KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — A suicide truck bomb exploded in a southern Afghan province Monday, killing at least five people and wounding 62, authorities said.

The blast struck the gate of the provincial council's compound in Zabul province's capital city of Kalat, council director Atta Jan Haqbayan said. He said three of the wounded were council members, two of whom were women. Children also were among the wounded, he said.

Mirwais Noorzai, Zabul's police chief, said the attacker detonated explosives inside a small truck. He initially said authorities believe the number of casualties is expected to rise.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. Insurgent activity in Zabul, which borders Pakistan, has intensified in recent months.

The province also has seen a number of kidnappings, especially of minority Hazara Shiite men, raising fears that Afghanistan's war may be taking on a sectarian element.

Elsewhere in southern Afghanistan in neighboring Kandahar province, a firefight between police officers killed three, provincial police spokesmen Zia Durrani said. The fight broke out early Monday in Maiwand district, he said, adding that four officer involved in the clash had "escaped from the area." He said the attack was under investigation.

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