A powerful vehicle bomb has hit the diplomatic area of the Afghan capital, Kabul, killing at least 80 people and injuring 350.
It struck close to the German embassy in Zanbaq Square, with civilians said to be the main casualties.
The wounded staggered from the site of a blast so strong it blew out windows and doors hundreds of metres away.
No group has yet said it carried out the bombing but the Taliban and IS have both been behind recent attacks.
When and where did the attack take place?
The bomb went off at about 08:25 local time (03:55 GMT) during the rush hour in the Afghan capital.
Makeshift ambulances carried wounded away from the scene as frantic relatives gathered at the cordoned-off perimeter of the blast site.
Images showed dozens of blackened and burned out cars. More than 50 vehicles were destroyed.
Basir Mujahid a spokesman for Kabul police, told Reuters news agency the explosion had taken place close to the German embassy but added it was “hard to say what the exact target is”.
There are many other key buildings in the area, including the presidential palace and a number of embassies, including the British.
Some reports say the bomb was in a lorry or water tanker.
Questions will surely be asked about how an attack could target such a heavily fortified area.
The zone is considered the safest in the capital, with 3m (10ft) high blast walls.
Who were the casualties?
Initial reports suggest civilians bore the brunt of the casualties.
The health ministry said the casualty figures were expected to rise further.
Spokesman Ismael Kawoosi said: “They are still bringing bodies and wounded people to hospitals.”
The interior ministry has called on residents to donate blood.
Several international and local sources have been reporting on casualties:
- A German security source said it was unclear whether any of Germany’s embassy staff had been killed or injured
- French officials said the country’s embassy had been damaged, along with the German embassy, but there were no signs at this stage of any French casualties
- India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj said the staff of its embassy, close to the blast, were safe
- Two Japanese embassy staff members were slightly wounded
- Afghanistan’s Tolo news agency tweeted that one of its staff members, Aziz Navin, had died
- A Tolo journalist also said some of the victims were from the Roshan mobile phone company, but this has not been confirmed
What has the reaction been?
Afghan government spokesman Feroz Bashari condemned the attack, saying: “Today the enemies of Afghanistan once again showed their brutality by killing and wounding civilians. The enemy has no mercy on civilians.”
Indian PM Narendra Modi tweeted: “We strongly condemn the terrorist blast in Kabul. Our thoughts are with the families of the deceased & prayers with the injured.”
Who could have been behind the attack?
No group has yet said it carried out Wednesday’s attack, but last month the Taliban announced the start of a major spring offensive, saying their main focus would be foreign forces, targeting them with a mix of conventional, guerrilla, insider and suicide attacks.
The US has about 8,400 troops in Afghanistan, with another 5,000 from Nato allies.
The Pentagon has reportedly pressed President Donald Trump to send thousands more troops back to the country to try to counter gains by the Taliban. More than a third of the country is now said to be outside Afghan government control.
A Taliban attack on an Afghan army training compound in the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif last month killed at least 135 soldiers, and led to the resignation of the defence minister and army chief of staff.
The so-called Islamic State in Afghanistan has also been active, saying it was behind a suicide bomb attack this month on a Nato convoy that was passing the US embassy in Kabul. At least eight civilians were killed.
Major recent Kabul attacks
- 8 March 2017 – More than 30 people killed after attackers dressed as doctors stormed Sardar Daud Khan military hospital
- 21 Nov 2016 – At least 27 dead in a suicide bomb attack on Baqir ul Olum mosque during a Shia ceremony
- 23 July 2016 – At least 80 people killed in twin bomb blasts targeting a rally by the Shia Hazara minority in Deh Mazang square
- 19 Apr 2016 – At least 28 dead in a huge explosion close to the Afghan defence ministry building
- 1 Feb 2016 – 20 killed in a suicide bomb attack at police headquarters
- 7 Aug 2015 – At least 35 people dead in separate bomb attacks across the capital
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