A roadside bomb blamed on the Taliban tore through a police vehicle in southern Afghanistan at the weekend, killing nine people and wounding 15, officials said on Monday.

The bombing took place late Sunday in the Shahjoy district of Zabul province, on the main Kabul-Kandahar road which is a hotspot of the Taliban insurgency.

The attack killed three police including a commander and six civilians, Mohammad Jan Rasoulyar, the Zabul deputy governor, told AFP.

Fifteen other people, most of them civilian bystanders, were wounded in the attack.

Jawed Faisal, head of the Kandahar Media Office in the neighbouring province, blamed the attack on the Taliban.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. But the insurgents have frequently used roadside bombs to target Afghans and international troops since their fall from power following a US-led invasion in 2001.

Afghan forces have formally taken over responsibility for security from US-led NATO troops who are due to leave the country next year. But there are concerns about their ability to withstand the Taliban unaided.

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