At least 90 people died and as many as 400 wounded on Wednesday morning, when a massive truck bomb ripped through the Afghan capital Kabul. Afghan officials report, however, that the death toll is likely to rise, given the severity of many of the injuries. Some speculate it may be as high as 150 within a week.
A suicide attacker drove into Kabul’s diplomatic quarter during the early-morning rush hour and set off explosives. Witnesses reported an enormous plume of smoke rising up from Kabul’s diplomatic quarter, home to the city’s foreign embassies and the presidential palace.
Afghan intelligence officials have blamed Taliban-affiliated militants aided by Pakistani security services for the bombing.
The blast left a 16ft-deep crater near Zanbaq Square in the Wazir Akbar Khan district, where foreign embassies are located, including the German premises which was badly damaged.
Most of the fatalities were civilians, including women and children. Nine Afghan security guards at the US embassy also died as well as another guard at the German equivalent.
The embassies of China, Turkey, France, India and Japan also reported damage, while the BBC said one of its drivers was killed and four of its journalists were wounded. Eleven US contractors were also hurt.
More than 50 cars were destroyed or damaged in the area which was considered Kabul’s safest neighbourhood, with buildings protected by dozens of 10ft-high blast walls.
The Afghan intelligence service, NDS, said early findings showed the Afghan Haqqani militant network with the assistance of the Pakistani intelligence service, ISI, carried out the attack.
In a statement, the NDS said: “These terrorists once again proved they don’t represent any religion and they only carry out such coward attacks to please their Pakistani masters which is against all Islamic and human rights principals.”
The Haqqani group is fighting US-led NATO forces and the Afghan government.
There are currently 8,500 US troops in Afghanistan and Donald Trump is due to decide soon on a recommendation to send 3,000 to 5,000 more soldiers to bolster the NATO training force and US counter-terrorism mission.
— With agency reports