A police commander and 16 civilians have been killed by a suicide blast in a public bathhouse in the town of Spin Boldak in Kandahar province. Twenty-three others were injured. It is the deadliest attack of 2011 so far.
Afghanistan's Kandahar province is often the scene of fatal terrorist attacks
A spokesman for the governor of Kandahar confirmed on Friday that a police commander and his two bodyguards had been killed as they washed at a bathhouse before Friday prayers.
The Kandahar administration released a statement saying that the main target of the attack had been the police commander, whose name was Ramazan.
The governor said the attack was "inhuman and un-Islamic" in the statement, adding that it had been carried out by "enemies of the people," which is a term officials often use to describe Taliban insurgents.
The Taliban militia claimed responsibility for the attack soon after.
Earlier this week, Kandahar's intelligence chief had warned of more Taliban attacks in the coming days.
The attack comes as the US defense department has ordered more troops to the southern part of the war-torn country in a bid to pre-empt a traditional insurgent offensive later on this year.
Author: Anne Thomas (Reuters, dpa, AFP)
Editor: Thomas Baerthlein