Horror and chaos grip the Afghan capital Kabul following a huge car bomb explosion, which according to the Health Ministry has so far claimed at least 80 lives and wounded over 350 others.
The bomb exploded near the presidential palace and foreign embassies in the center of Kabul on Wednesday morning, Afghan officials said.
The Daesh Takfiri terrorist group claimed responsibility for the attack, the precise target of which remained unclear, even though it hit Zanbaq Square, close to the German Embassy (seen in the above picture).
Reports say several embassies have been damaged in the large explosion.
Health Ministry spokesman Ismael Kawoosi confirmed the fatality number and warned that the toll could rise.
“They are still bringing bodies and wounded people to hospitals,” he said.
An Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said initial findings showed it had been a truck bomb. The attack inflicted damages on the buildings of embassies of India and Japan.
Iranian Embassy damaged
The Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran was also damaged in the explosion. The Iranian ambassador’s residence was partially destroyed, too.
The blast occurred some 200 meters from the Iranian Embassy in Kabul.
Most Iranian diplomatic personnel were yet to arrive at the Embassy when the blast occurred at 08:25 am Afghanistan time. Reports say only two staffers were lightly wounded, however.
Iran condemns attack
Meanwhile, the Iranian Foreign Ministry later on Wednesday condemned the “criminal suicide attack” in Kabul and said the failure to confront terrorism has resulted in an increase in terrorist activities.
Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi expressed hope that intra-Afghan dialog — leaving out regional and non-regional countries accused of sponsoring terrorism — would create a mechanism to prevent such attacks and stymie the flow of weapons for extremist groups by those countries.
“The suicide attack in Kabul is another warning that a failure to seriously confront this evil phenomenon (terrorism) and the continuation of sponsorship for these extremist groups by certain countries in the region has led to a rise in these merciless activities over the past weeks,” Qassemi said.
India’s envoy to Afghanistan, Manpreet Vohra, said the blast hit around 100 meters from the Indian Embassy “but we are all safe, all our staff, all our personnel are safe.”
He said that “the blast was very large and nearby buildings including our own building have considerable damage in terms of broken glass and shattered windows and blown doors etc.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi used Twitter to “strongly condemn the terrorist blast in Kabul.”
The blast also shattered windows at the Japanese Embassy.
“Two Japanese Embassy staffers were mildly injured, suffering cuts,” said a Foreign Ministry official in Tokyo.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Twitter that the explosion injured embassy staff and killed an Afghan security guard. The number of injured employees was not specified.
The bomb blast on the highly-secured area is said to be “one of the biggest” in the city, which has already been the target of many terrorist attacks in the first three months of 2017.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani strongly condemned the attack, which occurred just days into the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
His office said in a statement that “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 also issued a statement, saying it “strongly condemns 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.”