95 people have been reportedly killed and more than 158 are said to be wounded in a powerful suicide blast in the Afghan capital, Kabul.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the Saturday’s attack, the third major attack in the past seven days. An interior ministry spokesman blamed the the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network, which has been behind many of the biggest attacks on urban targets in Afghanistan.
Attackers blew up an explosives-packed ambulance near an interior ministry building on a busy and heavily-guarded street in Kabul’s centre in the afternoon. The Jamhuriat hospital, government offices, businesses and a school are close to the site of the blast.
Ahmed Naweed, a witness,said that the attack happened near a check point.
“There were many dead bodies and blood everywhere,” he said. “People were crying and screaming and running away.”
Attackers blew up an explosives-packed ambulance near an interior ministry. said Afghan officials were calling the attack a “massacre”.
“In the immediate aftermath of the attack, we saw bodies scattered across the street,” she said. “The hospitals are inundated with the wounded and officials fear the death toll may rise.”
The driver passed through one checkpoint by telling police he was escorting a patient to the hospital, our correspondent said, and detonated the explosives at the second.
Huge plumes of dark smoke rose over the city following the attack, and vibrations of the explosion could be felt several kilometres away, according to witnesses.
Emergency vehicles rushed to the city centre, TOLO news reported.
United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan said attackers must be brought to justice.
“Today’s attack is nothing short of an atrocity, and those who have organised and enabled it must be brought to justice and held to account,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, head of the UNAMA, said in a statement.
The incident comes a week after a Taliban-claimed attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in the city, which left more than 20 dead, and days after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) killed at least three people at the office of Save the Children in Jalalabad.
Commenting on Saturday’s bomb blast, Dejan Panic, coordinator at a hospital run by the Emergency NGO, said: “It’s a massacre.”
The organisation tweeted a photo of a makeshift medical ward, where patients were being attended to on the floor.
At least seven people were dead on arrival, Emergency said.