KABUL: There is another shocking incident in the Afghanistan capital as an ambulance packed with explosives blew up in a crowded area of Kabul on Saturday, killing at least 95 people and wounding 158 others, officials said, in an attack claimed by the Taliban.
The explosion comes exactly a week after Taliban militants stormed a luxury hotel in Kabul, killing at least 22 people, the majority foreigners.
The latest explosion — one of the biggest since a truck bomb ripped through the Afghan capital’s diplomatic quarter on May 31 last year — triggered chaotic scenes as terrified people fled the area where several high-profile organisations, including the European Union, have offices.
Witnessed saw “lots of dead and wounded” civilians in the nearby Jamuriate hospital where overwhelmed medical staff struggled to treat bloodied men, women and children lying in corridors.
The force of the blast shook windows of buildings at least 2km away and shattered windows within hundreds of metres of the site.
Some low-rise structures in the vicinity of the explosion also collapsed.
“The suicide bomber used an ambulance to pass through the checkpoints. He passed through the first checkpoint saying he was taking a patient to Jamuriate hospital and at the second checkpoint he was recognised and blew his explosive-laden car,” interior ministry deputy spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told media.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on social media — their second deadly assault in Kabul in a week.
The Italian NGO Emergency said seven dead and 70 injured had been taken to its hospital, with its coordinator Dejan Panic tweeting that it had been a “massacre”.
Agencies earlier reported the death toll at 40. “The latest toll from Kabul hospitals stands at 40 martyred and 140 wounded,” health ministry spokesman Waheed Majroh said.
Outside civilians walked through debris-covered streets carrying wounded people on their backs as others loaded several bodies at a time into ambulances and private cars to take them to medical facilities around the city.
Photos shared on social media purportedly of the blast showed a huge plume of smoke rising into the sky.
The explosion happened in a busy part of the city where the High Peace Council, which is charged with negotiating with the Taliban, has offices.
Members of the European Union’s delegation in Kabul were in their “safe room” and there were no casualties.