At least 36 passengers, including women and men, were killed early on Sunday in a head-on collision between a passenger bus and a fuel tanker in the southern province of Zabul, officials said.

Gul Islam Seyal, spokesman for the provincial governor in Zabul said more than 25 others are seriously wounded with some in critical conditions.

"The passenger bus was on its way from Kandahar to Kabul when it collided with a fuel tanker in Jildak area of Zabul," provincial governor Bismillah Afghanmal told AFP.

Ghulam Jilani Farahi, deputy Zabul police chief, said some of the injured were rushed to hospitals in provincial capital Qalat as well as neighbouring Kandahar province.

The Kabul-Kandahar highway passes through militancy-prone areas. Many bus drivers are quite known to drive recklessly at top speeds to avoid any sort of insurgent activity.