Afghan capital attack death toll reaches 90; wounded 400

The morning rush hour attack in Zanbaq Square, close to the presidential palace and a number of foreign embassies, killed at least 80 people and wounded hundreds, making it the worst such attack in Kabul in decades.

Afghan officials say a heavy explosion has caused casualties and damage in the diplomatic area of the capital Kabul.

"I have been to many attacks, taken wounded people out of many blast sites, but I can say I have ever seen such a terrible attack as I saw this morning", ambulance driver Alef Ahmadzai told The Associated Press.

While neither the Taliban nor the Islamic State own up responsibility for the carnage, the attack came as a resurgent Taliban started stepping up their annual "spring offensive". Our correspondent says burnt-out cars are one indication of the blast's force.

Afghan officials inspect outside the German embassy in Kabul after the massive explosion.

The explosion also shattered windows at the Japanese embassy.

The blast was the latest in a long line of attacks in Kabul.

Wednesday's attack underscores spiraling insecurity in Afghanistan, where Afghan forces beset by soaring casualties and desertions are struggling to beat back the insurgents. After two hours, smoke was still rising from the scene and shops almost a mile away from the blast experienced blown out windows.

"A vehicle bomb" exploded at 8:25 a.m., Najib Danish, an interior ministry spokesman, told AFP. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told NPR that "his outfit has nothing to do with this blast and that they have not carried out the attack", Abdul Sattar reports for NPR.

Germany's Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that along with the Afghan guard who was killed, a German diplomat was lightly wounded while an Afghan staffer sustained severe injuries.

The president visited victims of the attack who were being treated in a hospital today; later tonight, he'll address his country on national television to discuss what he called an "inhuman attack".

President Donald Trump spoke with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani in the aftermath of the attack.

Thirty-one journalists have been killed in Afghanistan since 1992, and four were killed there in 2016, making it the sixth-deadliest country for journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The Taliban flatly denied any involvement in an email to news outlets and condemned all attacks against civilians.

Meanwhile, members of the parliament severely criticized the "failure" of the security forces in stopping an explosives-laden truck into the diplomatic enclave.

German officials said they were constantly reviewing security in Afghanistan. A spokeswoman for the German foreign ministry said the bomber's target was unknown.

For 16 years, USA troops and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies have been fighting alongside Afghan forces to crush the Taliban and more recently ISIS in Afghanistan.

U.S. troops have been in Afghanistan for almost 16 years, where the government and coalition allies are battling several terror groups, including the Taliban and ISIS.



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