At least 80 killed, 350 injured in Kabul car bomb explosion

The explosion also raised serious questions about the Afghan government's ability to secure the war-battered nation.

"It was a vehicle bomb near the German embassy, but there are several other important compounds and offices near there, too". All staff were safe, he said, though the blast left "considerable damage", including shattered windows.

"Mohammed Nazir worked as a driver for the BBC Afghan Service for more than four years and was a popular colleague".

It was timed to coincide with the morning rush hour, when Kabul's roads are packed with cars and traffic in many parts is slow moving.

The ministry said three hundred and twenty others were wounded and 50 vehicles destroyed.

Throughout the morning, plumes of smoke continued to rise from the blast site, a reminder, in the most tragic way, of the deteriorating security situation in the country more than a decade and a half after US -led forces displaced the Taliban regime from Kabul. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said that diplomats and embassy staff were safe, and condemned the attack, expressing solidarity with Afghanistan.

The attack was the second massive bombing in Kabul this month.

The dead and wounded were nearly all Afghan civilians and security forces: policemen, bank clerks, cart pullers, telephone company workers.

Shocked residents soaked in blood stumbled in the streets before being taken to hospitals.

The last two major bomb blasts in Kabul, the last being in early May and also occurring in the diplomatic area, were claimed by the Islamic State although the Taliban also carried out attacks which left numerous civilian casualties in recent weeks.

The Taliban later Wednesday issued a statement denying any involvement and condemning all attacks against civilians. "They are still bringing bodies and wounded people to hospitals", senior health ministry spokesman Ismael Kawoosi told AFP.

There are now 8,500 USA troops in Afghanistan with a US promise of more to come.

"These heinous acts go against the values of humanity as well values of peaceful Afghans", the statement said.

One Afghan security guard was killed and others were likely among the dead, Gabriel said.

Llorens offered his "deepest condolences to the families of all those killed and hope for the speedy recovery of the injured".

The U.S. has approximately 8,400 troops in Afghanistan and 5,000 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies. It is one of the biggest contributors to the NATO-led Resolute Support mission, with about 980 soldiers supporting and training Afghan forces. "It is hard to say what the exact target is".

It said, "Afghan security forces prevented the VBIED from gaining entry to the Green Zone, but the explosion caused civilian casualties in the vicinity".

"I've never seen such a powerful explosion in my life", said Mohammad Haroon, who owns a nearby sporting goods store.

  • Leroy Wright