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Not Us, Say Taliban as Vehicle Bomb Near Indian Embassy in Kabul Kills 80

At least 80 people were killed and more than 300 injured in a bomb blast near the Indian embassy in the diplomatic area of Kabul on Wednesday morning. In a tweet, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said all Indian officials were safe.

CNN-News18

Updated:May 31, 2017, 2:10 PM IST
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New Delhi: At least 80 people were killed and more than 300 injured in a bomb blast near the Indian embassy in the diplomatic area of Kabul on Wednesday morning. In a tweet, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said all Indian officials were safe.

"Unfortunately the toll has reached 80 martyred (killed) and over 300 wounded, including many women and children," said ministry spokesman Waheed Majroh, adding the figures would continue to climb as more bodies are pulled from the debris.

Bodies littered the scene and a towering plume of smoke rose from the area, which houses foreign embassies, after the blast blew out the windows in several missions and residences hundreds of metres away.

It was not immediately clear what the target was. But the attack underscores spiralling insecurity in Afghanistan, where a military beset by soaring casualties and desertions is struggling to beat back the insurgents. Over a third of the country is outside government control.

The explosion was said to have been triggered by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (IED) around 50 meters from the Indian mission. All staff members have been moved to strong rooms, sources added.

Witnesses described dozens of cars choking the roads as wounded survivors and panicked schoolgirls sought safety. Men and women struggled to get through security checkpoints to search for loved ones.

Photographs accessed by CNN-News18 showed window planes of the embassy building shattered by the impact of the blast which was reported from near the German Gate.

kabul blast2

The German Gate is the entry point to the road in the diplomatic area which houses missions of several countries, the closes being the German Embassy.

Condemning the attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in Spain as part of his four-nation tour, tweeted:

Indian ambassador Manpreet Vohra said the Indian mission building suffered damage.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the attack came as the resurgent Taliban are stepping up their annual "spring offensive".

The Afghan Taliban denied responsibility in a statement, saying the movement condemned any such untargeted attacks that caused civilian casualties.

The Islamic State group has also claimed responsibility for several recent bombings in the Afghan capital, including a powerful blast targeting an armoured NATO convoy that killed at least eight people and wounded 28 on May 3.

The blast was the latest in a long line of attacks in the Afghan capital. Kabul province had the highest number of casualties in the first three months of 2017 thanks to multiple attacks in the city, with civilians bearing the brunt of the violence.

In March last year, the Indian consulate in Afghanistan's Jalalabad city was attacked by terrorists, leading to the death of nine people.

Wednesday’s attack underscores spiralling insecurity in Afghanistan, where Afghan forces beset by soaring casualties and desertions are struggling to beat back the insurgents. More than one third of the country is outside government control.

Afghan troops are backed by US and NATO forces, and the Pentagon has reportedly asked the White House to send thousands more troops to the country to break the deadlocked fight against the Taliban.

US troops in Afghanistan number about 8,400 today, and there are another 5,000 from NATO allies, who also mainly serve in an advisory capacity — a far cry from the US presence of more than 100,000 six years ago.

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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