June 1, 2017 **Update**
ISLAMABAD — A massive truck bomb exploded Wednesday morning in the diplomatic section of Afghanistan’s capital, killing at least 90 people and wounding more than 400.
The bomb ripped through the central Wazir Akbar Khan area of Kabul, home to foreign diplomatic missions and government offices, damaging dozens of vehicles and surrounding buildings. Afghan officials said the explosives were packed in a sewage tanker.
Most of the casualties were civilians, but the dead included Afghan security guards at diplomatic sites.
There was no claim of responsibility for the attack.
The Afghan Intelligence agency, NDS, in a brief statement, has blamed the Haqqani network, which allegedly is based in neighboring Pakistan and fighting alongside the Taliban. The NDS also asserted that Pakistan’s spy agency, ISI, helped in planning the attack.
Afghan officials have blamed Islamabad previously for facilitating insurgent attacks in their country, charges Pakistani officials deny.
The Taliban denied involvement, saying the insurgent group had nothing to do with Wednesday’s bombing or any attacks that target civilians. The insurgents have lately intensified attacks on Afghan security forces, killing and wounding scores of them.
Islamic State has claimed attacks against high-profile Afghan targets in recent months, including a deadly suicide raid on the country’s largest military hospital in Kabul in March.
The bombing happened in an area not far from the German embassy. Pictures circulated on social media showed the blast turned a portion of the diplomatic mission into ruins. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said an Afghan security guard was among those killed and that a number of employees were wounded.
The French, Turkish and Iranian embassies are also among missions that suffered material damage.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry said two of its embassy employees, both Japanese nationals, were slightly injured in the Kabul bombing while minor damage was caused to the building.
A U.S. State Department spokesman said 11 U.S. citizens working as contractors in Afghanistan were injured.
The explosion mostly devastated a nearby building, housing the main office of Roshan, the leading telecommunications service provider in Afghanistan.
Afghan security forces swiftly cordoned off the area, and international troops arrived at the site to assist in rescue efforts.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned Wednesday’s blast as an “inhuman and cowardly attack” against innocent civilians in the holy Islamic month of Ramadan.
The White House said U.S. President Donald Trump called Ghani to express his condolences and condemn the bombing, saying that the attack happening during Ramadan underscores “the barbaric nature of the terrorists who are enemies of all civilized peoples.”
The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) condemned the bombing as “morally reprehensible and an outrage,” particularly during the month of Ramadan.
NATO’s U.S.-led Resolute Support military mission said the attack “demonstrates a complete disregard for civilians and reveals the barbaric nature of the enemy faced by the Afghan people.”
Neighboring Pakistan also denounced the terrorist attack, saying it has caused damage to the residence of Pakistani diplomats and staff and inflicted minor injuries to some.
“The people and government of Pakistan extend their heartfelt sympathies and deepest condolences to the government and the people of Afghanistan and the bereaved families,” said a Foreign Ministry spokesman.
The latest violence comes as President Ghani is set to host a conference of neighboring and regional countries in Kabul next week to discuss ways to end an increasingly deadly Afghan conflict.
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