Blast tears through central Kabul, killing and injuring dozens

An unspecified number of German, Japanese and Pakistani Embassy staff were injured. The ministry did not have details on the possible target of the attack.

"It is with great sadness that the BBC can confirm the death of BBC Afghan driver Mohammed Nazir following the vehicle bomb in Kabul earlier today, as he was driving journalist colleagues to the office", the BBC World Service said in a statement.

Not far from the German Embassy, at the entrance to the offices of a major Afghan cellphone company and popular TV station.

"A mile away there was first a low rumble like an quake, then the shockwave from the blast followed and blew open doors and windows".

He was further quoted, as saying that a suicide bomber had detonated a vehicle packed with explosives in the area.

A spokesman for the public health ministry said most of the casualties were civilians, including women and children.

Both the Taliban and the Islamic State group have staged large-scale attacks in the Afghan capital in the past.

At least 80 people were killed and hundreds wounded when a massive truck bomb ripped through Kabul´s diplomatic quarter, shattering the morning rush hour and bringing carnage to the streets of the Afghan capital.

The French embassy was damaged but there were "no signs at this stage" of any French victims, a government spokesman said.

Switzerland said the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation had several windows broken but the staff were safe.

Makeshift ambulances carried wounded away from the scene, as frantic relatives gathered both at the cordoned-off perimeter of the blast site and later at hospitals to try to locate loved ones. Hospitals frantically appealed for blood donation.

"It felt like an natural disaster", said 21-year-old Mohammad Hassan, describing the moment the blast struck the bank where he was working.

India and Pakistan condemned the blast.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, now in Spain, denounced the Kabul mayhem.

German embassy officials were among those wounded in the blast, CNN reported.

"Today's tragedy shows that the conflict in Afghanistan is not winding down but dangerously widening, in a way that should alarm the worldwide community", it said in a statement.

However, president Ashref Ghani's government still holds all the main provincial centres.

US and Afghan forces have been battling the Taliban insurgency for more than 15 years.

Since the withdrawal of most global troops in 2014, the extremists have gained ground and now control about 40% of the country, according to U.S. estimates.

Donald Trump is due to decide soon on a recommendation to send 3,000 to 5,000 more troops to bolster the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation training force and U.S. counter-terrorism mission, which total just over 10,000.

Germany has had troops in Afghanistan for 15 years, primarily concentrated in the north in and around Mazar-e-Sharif.

  • Leroy Wright