A massive truck bomb ripped through Kabul’s diplomatic quarter during rush hour on Wednesday, killing at least 90 people in the deadliest attack in the Afghan capital since 2001.
Bloodied corpses littered the scene and a huge cloud of smoke rose from the highly-fortified area which houses foreign embassies, after the explosion tore a massive crater in the ground and blew out windows several miles away.
No group has so far claimed the powerful blast, which officials said was caused by 1,500 kilograms (1.6 US tons) of explosives hidden inside a sewage tanker, in what appeared to be a major intelligence failure.
Rescue workers were digging bodies from the site hours after the explosion, many of them disfigured and charred, as anguished residents searched for missing relatives.
“They were going to their work like any other day and now they are lost,” a young Afghan man said of his missing uncle and cousins, sobbing quietly outside Kabul’s Emergency hospital.
“I have searched in three hospitals and haven’t found them.”
The attack, just days into the holy fasting month of Ramadan, underscores spiralling insecurity in Afghanistan, where the NATO-backed military, beset by soaring casualties and desertions, is struggling to beat back insurgents.
“In this powerful attack 90 people have been killed and 400 wounded, including many women and children,” said the government’s media centre, with health officials warning the toll could climb further.
At least 11 Afghan guards working for the US embassy were among those killed and 11 American citizens working as contractors in Kabul were among the wounded, US officials said.