Scores of civilians have been killed after a massive explosion in a highly secure diplomatic area of Kabul left at least 83 people dead and wounded more than 461, the Afghan public health ministry has said.
The attack is the deadliest in the Afghan capital since an Isis suicide bomber killed nearly 100 people at a protest last summer, and one of the largest to hit Kabul since the 2001 intervention.
The huge blast of a bomb hidden in a sewage tanker occurred close to the German embassy in the Wazir Akbar Khan area of the capital on Wednesday morning, sending clouds of black smoke spiralling into the sky near the presidential palace and foreign embassies. Meanwhile, the vast majority of casualties are expected to be civilians.
No group has claimed responsibility but both the Taliban and Isis have staged large-scale attacks in the city. The Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, condemned the attack. “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,” he said in a statement.
On Wednesday evening, the country’s intelligence agency, the NDS, accused the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network, with Pakistani support, of being behind the a
“It was a car bomb near the German embassy, but there are several other important compounds and offices near there too. It is hard to say what the exact target is,” Mujahid said.
The explosion site is on the road leading to the American embassy as well as the US and Nato military headquarters. It was unclear whether the attacker intended to target the German embassy or was perhaps stopped on the way to compounds further ahead, and detonated prematurely.
The German foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, an Afghan security guard was killed in the blast and embassy employees wounded. He said all embassy workers were now safe and offered his condolences to the family of the slain guard.
The US Department of State said 11 American contractors working for the US embassy were injured. Eleven members of the Afghan national police and eight Afghan soldiers were among the dead.
The BBC said in a statement that one of its Afghan drivers, Mohammed Nazir, who was in his late 30s and had a young family, was killed in the blast. Four journalists were wounded and treated in hospital. Their injuries are not thought to be life threatening.