The death toll in a huge explosion that rocked Kabul’s diplomatic quarter has risen to 90 with another 400 people injured, Afghanistan’s Public Heath Ministry has said, in what is believed to be one of the worst terror incidents to ever hit the Afghan capital.
Police spokesperson Basir Mujahid confirmed the Wednesday morning attack was caused by a powerful suicide truck bomb deployed during rush hour.
The massive blast near the German embassy in Zanbaq Square sent thick plumes of smoke into the sky and managed to shatter windows and blow doors off their hinges one kilometre (half a mile) away. Makeshift ambulances struggled to deal with the number of casualties as the vast scale of the damage became clear.
Video from the scene showed a number of dazed, bloodsoaked people stumbling around and bodies still lying on the ground or in burning cars. The majority of the dead are thought to be civilians. Women and children were among those killed, Ismail Kawasi of the Public Health Ministry said.
A BBC team was caught up in the explosion, killing driver Mohammed Nazir and inflicting non-life-threatening injuries on four journalists, a statement from the corporation read.
At least one journalist working for local Tolo news agency was confirmed to have died. German security sources said that an Afghan security guard at the embassy had been killed and several German staff hurt.
“The attack took place very close to the German embassy. It hit civilians and those who are in Afghanistan to work for a better future for the country with the people there. It’s especially contemptible that these people were the target,” German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Twitter.
Germany’s Interior Ministry said deportations of Afghans whose asylum requests have been rejected have been temporarily suspended in the wake of the attack.
The Japanese embassy confirmed two nationals had been wounded, as was one Pakistani embassy employee, and heavy damage was sustained by the nearby British, Turkish and Chinese embassies as well as the AFP news agency’s offices.
It is understood that Turkey plans to evacuate some of its staff from the city following the incident.
The death toll is expected to rise, the Interior Ministry said, putting out an urgent appeal for blood donors.