At least 80 people killed in huge Afghanistan bomb blast

Health officials say the explosion injured more than 350 people

At least 80 people killed in huge Afghanistan bomb blast

An injured man is seen after a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, 31-05-2017. Image: AP Photo/Rahmat Gul

Updated 08:20

At least 80 people have been killed and more than 350 injured after a huge blast rocked the Afghan capital of Kabul near the presidential palace and foreign embassies.

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 are packed with commuters.

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 in the Afghan capital 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."

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast.

A spokesman for Taliban insurgents said he was gathering information.

A German security source said it was unclear whether German staff at their embassy had been killed or injured.

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 re-impose 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.