A massive truck bomb exploded Wednesday morning in the diplomatic section of Afghanistan’s capital, killing at least 90 people and wounding more than 300 others.
A security official speaking on condition of anonymity told VOA the casualty figures hours after the blast. Earlier, Afghan health ministry spokesman Wahidullah Majroh had put the number of deaths at 80, saying it could rise.
The bomb ripped through the central Wazir Akbar Khan area of Kabul, home to foreign diplomatic missions and government offices, damaging dozens of vehicles and surrounding buildings. Afghan officials said the explosives were packed in a sewage tanker.
The bombing happened in an area not far from the German embassy. Pictures circulated on social media showed the blast turned a portion of the diplomatic mission into ruins. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Twitter an Afghan security guard was among those killed and that a number of employees were wounded.
The French, Turkish and Iranian embassies are also among missions that suffered material damage.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry says two of its embassy employees, both Japanese nationals, were slightly injured in the Kabul bombing while minor damage was also caused to the building.
The explosion also mostly devastated a nearby building, housing the main office of Roshan, the leading telecommunications service provider in Afghanistan.
Afghan security forces swiftly cordoned off the area and international troops arrived at the site to assist in rescue efforts.
Afghan television showed dozens of ambulances taking wounded people to hospitals, including women.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The Taliban has denied involvement, saying the insurgent group has nothing to do with the bombing or any attacks that target civilians. The insurgents have lately intensified attacks on Afghan security forces, killing and wounding scores of them.
Islamic State has claimed attacks against high-profile Afghan targets in recent months, including a deadly suicide raid on the country’s largest military hospital in Kabul in March.
That attack left at least 50 people dead, including soldiers and doctors.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned Wednesday’s blast as an “inhuman and cowardly attack” against innocent civilians in the holy Islamic month of Ramadan.
State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said the attacks “once again show the terrorists’ complete disregard for human life.”
The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) condemned the bombing as “morally reprehensible and an outrage,” particularly during the month of Ramadan.
NATO’s U.S.-led Resolute Support military mission said the attack “demonstrates a complete disregard for civilians and reveals the barbaric nature of the enemy faced by the Afghan people.”
Neighboring Pakistan also denounced the terrorist attack, saying it has caused damage to the residence of Pakistani diplomats and staff, and inflicted minor injuries to some.
“The people and government of Pakistan extend their heartfelt sympathies and deepest condolences to the government and the people of Afghanistan and the bereaved families,” said a Foreign Ministry spokesman.
The latest violence comes as President Ghani is set to host a conference of neighboring and regional countries in Kabul next week to discuss ways to end an increasingly deadly Afghan conflict.
Timeline of Major Attacks in Kabul Over The Last Year
May 31, 2017: More than 90 people are killed and 300 wounded when a truck filled with explosives detonates near the German embassy in Kabul.
March 8, 2017: Thirty-one people are killed and 87 wounded when insurgents disguised as doctors attack a military hospital with a suicide bomb, automatic weapons and grenades.
January 10, 2017: Twin suicide bombings near parliament in Kabul kill more than 30 people and injure some 80 others.
November 21, 2016: At least 32 people are killed and more than 80 wounded in a suicide bombing of a Shiite mosque in Kabul.
July 23, 2016: At least 80 people are killed and 200 more wounded when a bomb claimed by Islamic State explodes during a peaceful protest rally.