KABUL: A massive explosion rocked a highly secure diplomatic area of Kabul on Wednesday morning, killing 80 people and wounding as many as 320, sending a huge plume of smoke over the Afghan capital.
The target of the attack — which officials said was a suicide car bombing — was not immediately known but Ismail Kawasi, spokesman of the public health ministry, said most of the casualties were civilians.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast. Both the Taliban and the Daesh group have staged large-scale attacks in the Afghan capital in the past.
A statement from the Ministry of Interior Affairs says it “condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attack” that killed so many, including women and children.
“These heinous acts go against the values of humanity as well values of peaceful Afghans,” the statement added. “These attacks also demonstrate the extreme level of atrocity by terrorists against innocent civilians.”
The explosion took place at the peak of Kabul’s rush hour when roads are packed with worktime commuters. It appeared to have gone off close to a busy intersection in the Wazir Akbar Khan district but Najib Danish, deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, did not have a more precise location.
The neighborhood is considered Kabul’s safest area, with foreign embassies protected by dozens of 10-foot-high blast walls and government offices, guarded by police and national security forces.
The blast was so heavy that more than 50 vehicles were either destroyed or damaged at the site of the attack. “We don’t know at this moment what was the target of the attack,” said Danish.
Windows were shattered in shops, restaurants and other buildings up to a kilometer (half mile) from the blast site.
“There are a large number of casualties, but I don’t know, how many people are killed or wounded,” said an eyewitness at the site, Gul Rahim.
Kawasi said the wounded were admitted to different Kabul hospitals.
Shortly after the explosion, all roads in Wazir Akbar Khan were blocked off by Afghan security forces and helicopters were deployed over the neighborhood. DNA