ISLAMABAD — A suicide bomber carried out an attack Thursday at a private bank in Kandahar city in southern Afghanistan, killing at least three people and injuring 12 others, officials said.

All of the victims were people who had gathered at the branch of New Kabul Bank to collect their monthly salaries, said Inamullah Samangani, head of the government's Kandahar Information and Culture Department.

Abdul Mateen Qani, spokesman for the Taliban Interior Ministry, also confirmed the attack but couldn’t provide more details. He said it was being investigated.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing. The Islamic State group’s affiliate, a major Taliban rival, has conducted previous attacks on schools, hospitals, mosques and Shiite areas throughout the country.

Kandahar city is a spiritual and political center for Afghanistan’s rulers because the Taliban's supreme leader, Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada, is based there and his decisions on major issues are implemented by authorities in Kabul, the capital.

The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021 during the chaotic departure of U.S. and NATO troops after 20 years. Despite initial promises of a more moderate stance, the Taliban gradually reimposed a harsh interpretation of Islamic law, or Shariah, as they did during their previous rule of Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001.

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