Car bomb blast in Kabul kills at least 80, injures 350

Car bomb blast in Kabul kills at least 80, injures 350

Update: 12.30pm: The massive explosion which rocked a highly secure diplomatic area of Kabul today has taken the lives of 80 people and wounded as many as 350.

The attack left a scene of mayhem and destruction and sent a huge plume of smoke over the Afghan capital.

The target of the blast - which officials said was a suicide car bombing - is unclear, but Ismail Kawasi, spokesman for the public health ministry, said most of the casualties were civilians, including women and children.

Car bomb blast in Kabul kills at least 80, injures 350

It was one of the worst attacks Kabul has seen since the drawdown of foreign forces at the end of 2014.

Images from the scene showed the German embassy and several others heavily damaged. Germany and Pakistan said some of their embassy employees and staff were hurt in the explosion.

The explosion took place at the peak of Kabul’s rush hour when roads are packed with commuters. It went off close to a busy intersection in the Wazir Akbar Khan district, said Najib Danish, deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry.

The neighbourhood is considered Kabul’s safest area, with foreign embassies protected by dozens of 10ft blast walls and government offices, guarded by police and national security forces.

The Foreign Ministry and the Presidential Palace are in the area, as are the British, Canadian, Chinese, Turkish and Iranian embassies.

TV footage showed shocked residents soaked in blood stumbling about, then being ferried away to hospitals. Passers-by stopped and helped the wounded into private cars, and others congregated outside the nearby Italian-run Emergency Hospital.

A statement from the Ministry of Interior Affairs said it "condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attack".

"These heinous acts go against the values of humanity as well values of peaceful Afghans. These attacks also demonstrate the extreme level of atrocity by terrorists against innocent civilians."

President Ashraf Ghani strongly condemned the attack, which came days into the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. A statement from his office quoted Mr Ghani as saying "the terrorists, even in the holy month of Ramadan, the month of goodness, blessing and prayer, are not stopping the killing of our innocent people".

Pakistan condemned the "terrorist attack in Kabul this morning that has caused loss of precious human lives and injuries to many". Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: "The blast has caused damage to the residences of some Pakistani diplomats and staff, living in the close vicinity, and inflicted minor injuries to some."

The Foreign Ministry in Berlin said it had no immediate information on possible casualties or damage to the German embassy but was trying to get more details.

Germany has had troops in Afghanistan for 15 years, primarily concentrated in the north in and around Mazar-E-Sharif. They are one of the biggest contributors to the Nato-led Resolute Support mission with around 980 soldiers on the ground to support and train Afghan security forces.

The explosion was so heavy that more than 50 vehicles were either destroyed or damaged.

Update 10.15am: The death toll in the suicide car bomb attack on Kabul’s diplomatic zone has risen to 80, an Afghan health official said.

Ismail Kawasi, spokesman for the public health ministry, says that the number of the wounded now stands at 350.

Update 8.30am: Sixty four people were killed and as many as 320 wounded in a massive car bombing in Kabul, the Afghan interior ministry said.

Earlier: At least nine people have been killed and as many as 90 others injured in a suicide car bomb blast in Afghanistan’s capital.

Health official Ismail Kawasi said the target of the attack in Kabul during Wednesday morning’s rush-hour was not immediately known.

Najib Danish, deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said the explosion was so heavy that more than 30 vehicles were either destroyed or damaged at the site of the attack.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast but both the Taliban and the Islamic State group have staged large-scale attacks in the Afghan capital in the past.

The blast in the Wazir Akbar Khan area happened near several embassies and not far from the presidential palace.

The neighbourhood is considered Kabul’s safest area, with foreign embassies protected by dozens of 10ft blast walls and government offices, guarded by police and national security forces.

Windows were shattered in shops, restaurants and other buildings up to a kilometre from the blast site.

AP

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