Kandahar - A Taliban truck bomber detonated around a ton of explosives Monday outside a government complex in southern Afghanistan, wounding about 40 people in the latest attack of the summer fighting season.
Women and children were among those injured in the attack at the gate of the complex in Zabul province, which includes several government buildings including the provincial council.
"Around 40 people were wounded in the suicide attack on the complex" in the provincial capital Qalat, local police chief Mirwais Noorzai told AFP.
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"Around 1 000kg of explosives were used in the attack," he added.
Deputy police chief Ghulam Jailani Farahi confirmed the casualties, adding that the wounded were all civilians and some were in critical condition.
The Taliban, waging a 13-year war against the US-backed Afghan government, claimed responsibility for the attack.
The insurgents are stepping up attacks on government and foreign targets after their traditional summer offensive got under way.
Surge in attacks
A blast triggered by a Taliban car bomber ripped through the parking lot of the justice ministry in Kabul last Tuesday, killing four people and wounding dozens of others.
Official efforts to bring the Taliban, who have waged a 13-year war to topple the US-backed government, to the negotiating table have so far borne little fruit.
The surge in attacks has taken a heavy toll on civilians, according to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
In the first four months of 2015, civilian casualties jumped 16% over the same period last year, it said.
The Afghan government has drawn public criticism for its inability to end insurgent attacks, a fact partly attributed by critics to infighting and a lengthy delay in finalising a cabinet.
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Last Thursday President Ashraf Ghani nominated Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai, the secretary of the High Peace Council, for the crucial position of defence minister.
The post had been left vacant for months due to disagreements between Ghani and his chief executive officer and former presidential election rival, Abdullah Abdullah.
Public criticism over the failure to appoint a defence minister has been especially fierce.
Afghan forces are now solely responsible for security after Nato's combat mission formally ended in December, with a small follow-up force staying on to train and support local personnel.
Earlier this month Nato formally announced plans to retain a small military presence in Afghanistan after 2016 to help strengthen local security forces.