A powerful blast today rocked Kabul's high-security diplomatic quarter where the Indian embassy is located, killing at least 80 and wounding over 350 people, besides damaging buildings in the area.
The blast caused minor damage to the Indian embassy building but all staffers at the were said to be safe. The explosion was close to the German embassy but houses many other missions in the vicinity. It was not immediately clear what was the target of the blast that occurred during the morning rush hour.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted that Indian embassy staffers were safe. Official sources at the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi, however, said some damage to the windows of the embassy building has been reported.
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The blast smashed windows of the buildings nearby and a huge plume of smoke could be seen spiralling over the area near the presidential palace and other foreign embassies in the Afghan capital. Najib Danish, deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said the explosion was so heavy that more than 30 vehicles were either destroyed or damaged at the site of the attack.
An eyewitness told the local Pajwok news agency that the blast took place close to the German embassy and foreign forces camp. It cited anoter source as saying the explosion happened in front of the office of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghanistan's primary intelligence agency.
Houses hundreds of metres away from the blast site were damaged and windows and doors blown off their hinges. Bodies and injured people were seen in the area. Some women were seen screaming for the lost relatives at the site of explosion.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, but the attack came as the Taliban group steps up their annual "spring offensive".
Both the Taliban and the Islamic State group have staged large-scale attacks in the Afghan capital in the past.