At least 90 killed in Kabul explosion near embassies

A car bomb near the German embassy went off during rush hour

At least 90 killed in Kabul explosion near embassies

Security forces stand next to a crater created by massive explosion in front of the German Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. Image: Rahmat Gul/AP/Press Association Images

At least 90 people have been killed in a huge blast in the highly secure diplomatic area of Kabul, Afghanistan. 

Police said the powerful car bomb exploded in an area close to the German embassy during the city's morning rush hour when the roads were packed with commuters.

Afghan officials said 350 people were also wounded, but the number of casualties is expected to rise.

The force of the blast was so great that more than 30 vehicles were either destroyed or damaged at the site of the attack.

Buildings hundreds of metres away from the explosion were damaged with windows and doors blown off their hinges.

Kabul police spokesman Basir Mujahid said: "It was a car bomb near the German embassy, but there are several other important compounds and offices near there too. It is hard to say what the exact target is."

A spokesman for the Taliban denied it was behind the attack.

The BBC said a driver for its Afghan service, Mohammed Nazir, was killed in the blast, and four journalists had been injured.

Germany's foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel, said employees at the country's embassy had been injured and an Afghan security guard was killed.

The US State Department confirmed that 11 American contractors were hurt in the blast, but none of their injuries are considered life-threatening.

France said its embassy had been damaged, but there was no suggestion of French victims.

The area where the bomb went off is considered one of the safest in Kabul, with foreign embassies and government offices protected by dozens of 10ft-high blast walls guarded by police and national security forces.

The British, Canadian, Chinese, Turkish and Iranian embassies and Afghanistan's foreign ministry are also in the area of the blast.

Afghanistan has seen a rise in violent attacks this year, as the Taliban push to overthrow the US-backed government and reimpose Islamic law 16 years after they were removed from power following the 9/11 attacks.

Since the withdrawal of most international troops in 2014, the extremists have gained ground and now control about 40% of the country, according to US estimates.

However, president Ashref Ghani's government still holds all the main provincial centres.
Donald Trump is due to decide soon on a recommendation to send 3,000 to 5,000 more troops to bolster the

NATO training force and US counter-terrorism mission, which total just over 10,000.

The commander of US forces in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, told a congressional hearing earlier this year that he needed several thousand more troops to help Afghan forces break a "stalemate" with the Taliban.

Additional reporting from IRN