KABUL — A massive blast jolted the diplomatic quarter of the Afghan capital on Wednesday, killing at least 80 people and wounding more than 350, media reports said.
The blast in a heavily fortified district left Kabul in shock and underlined the country’s security struggles as it confronts a sustained wave of insurgent and terrorist attacks.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation has condemned the terrorist explosion in the diplomatic district of the Afghan capital, Kabul, reports WAM.
In a statement, the ministry said that the explosion caused some material damage to the building of the UAE’s Embassy in Kabul, assuring all of the safety of diplomats and embassy staff.
The ministry expressed the UAE’s full solidarity with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and its support for the Afghan Government in the face of terrorism that targets the lives of innocent people.
In Kabul, Interior Ministry officials said a huge quantity of explosives, hidden in a water tank, triggered the 8:30 a.m. blast during rush hour on a busy boulevard in the Wazir Akbar Khan district, which houses embassies, banks, supermarkets and government ministries. An entire city block was decimated, with office buildings left in rubble and charred vehicles strewn across the road in one of the deadliest single attacks to hit Kabul.
At Wazir Akbar Khan Hospital, a steady stream of ambulances and police trucks delivered burned and mangled bodies, many streaming blood. Medical aides struggled to zip them quickly into body bags as distraught people crowded around, looking for missing relatives.
The dead and wounded were almost all Afghan civilians and security forces: policemen, bank clerks, cart pullers, telephone company workers. Five women were among the dead, officials said. Although many foreign offices are located nearby, there were no reports of foreigners among the dead. Some workers at diplomatic compounds, including those of Japan and Germany, were among those injured.
It is reported that no group immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, which was followed by a second smaller blast in another part of the city. Security agencies had warned that both Taliban insurgents and regional affiliates of the Islamic State were planning to attack high-profile targets in the city in the early part of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month that began last week.
Many injured survivors were cut by shards of glass, which shattered in storefronts, offices and foreign compounds throughout the area and as far as several miles across the city. By midmorning, many were limping or being wheeled out of local hospitals, with their clothes covered in blood and their heads, arms or feet wrapped in bandages.
Nearby, distraught families squatted around bloody body bags, guarding them in patches of shade. There were muffled, choking sounds of men weeping. Most of the dead had been seared by the blast; some were wrapped in cloth but others were half-naked and dripping blood.
The government of President Ashraf Ghani issued a statement condemning the twin blasts as “heinous acts that go against the values of humanity as well values of peaceful Afghans.” It also said the attacks “demonstrate the extreme level of atrocity by terrorists against innocent civilians.”