In Afghanistan explosion: many dead

16 killed 38 wounded in Afghan blast

Another 38 people were injured.

"As the security forces were trying to defuse the van, it detonated", said police spokesperson Mohammad Qasim Azad.

Provisional governor spokesman Daud Ahmadi, confirming the toll, said that the dead included four security forces personnel.

At least five small children were wounded in the explosion, he said.

The route of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline passes through large areas under Taliban control or influence. "Among the casualties were civilians and security forces", he said, adding that the blast took place in Fabrika Market, near Hazrat Je Baba Square of the city. "My co-workers who were already in the shop have disappeared and I have no news about what happened to them".

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The explosives were found in a cluster of vehicle mechanic shops. "I found myself among smoke and bloodstains and saw my hand broken", he said. An unidentified security official told AFP that the "terrorists planned to conduct a big attack" in Kandahar at the end of Ramzan.

At the moment, no terrorist or extremist group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

President Ashraf Ghani praised the bravery of the intelligence and security forces for attempting to foil the bombing.

The blast comes as the Taliban step up their spring offensive across the war-torn country.

Provincial council member Hassan Reza Yusufi said that seven officers were killed in one attack in the Dih Yak district, among them the police chief of the district, Sayedullah Tofan, and a reserve police commander.

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