At least 14 people were killed in a suicide car bombing attack in Afghanistan's capital of southern Helmand province as the Taliban attempted to enter Lashkargah city.
According to the local government officials, the suicide attack was carried out in the 2nd police district of the city amid ongoing clashes between the Afghan forces and the Taliban insurgents, Khaama Press reported.
Nad Ali district chief Maji Marjan said the explosion happened around 11.30am (local time) in the Mukhtar area of Lashkargah's police district 2.
Marjan added that at least 10 police officers, including his brother, and four civilians died in the bombing. The police chief warned an increase in the death toll as many people remain unaccounted for after the explosion.
A doctor at the international emergency hospital in Lashkargah said 14 bodies had been brought to the clinic, Press Trust of India reported.
However, the provincial hospital sources said at least 30 people wounded in the suicide attack were taken to the emergency hospital from the site of the incident, reported Khaama Press.
An interior ministry spokesman in Afghan capital of Kabul confirmed the attack. Sediq Sediqqi said that the Taliban had launched a large-scale attack on security checkpoints in Lashkargah on Monday.
Taliban militants breached the Afghan forces' "defense security belt", said Abdul Majeed Akhonzada, the deputy director of Helmand's provincial council.
However, Seddiqui expressed confidence that the Afghan security forces "will soon push them back."
A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said the insurgents were advancing through Lashkargah, PTI reported.
Provincial officials have said the Taliban now control 85 per cent of the Helmand province, while only a year ago, the government controlled 80 per cent. The province's opium output worth an estimated $4 billion a year provides funds for the Taliban's war, making it strategically important for the terror group.