KABUL: A massive explosion rocked Kabul city at about 8.30am on Wednesday, May 31, in rush hour traffic.
The explosion ripped through the diplomatic zone causing widespread damage, report agencies quoting local sources.
Reports indicate at least 80 people are dead and about 350 injured.
A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-packed vehicle in Zanbaq Square around 08:30am, the interior ministry said in a statement. “More than 50 vehicles were either destroyed or damaged.”
TOLOnews journalist Sharif Amiri, who is reporting from the scene, said the explosion happened close to the German embassy and Roshan telecommunications company in downtown Kabul.
Employees at the German embassy in Kabul were injured in a powerful bomb explosion and an Afghan security guard was killed, German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Twitter.
“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,” Gabriel said.
Bodies littered the scene and a huge plume of smoke rose from the area which houses foreign embassies. However, it was not immediately clear what the target was.
Witnesses described dozens of cars choking the roads as wounded survivors and panicked schoolgirls sought safety, with men and woman struggling to get through security checkpoints to search for loved ones.
Health ministry spokesperson said the injured people, mainly civilians, had been rushed to Kabul’s hospitals.
“By God’s grace, Indian embassy staff are safe in the massive #Kabul blast,” external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted. The Indian embassy is among those close to the area.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the attack came as the resurgent Taliban are stepping up their annual “spring offensive”.