Published: Fri, June 02, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Nazarbayev condoles with Afghanistan over deadly blast in Kabul

No group has claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack, although the Taliban has denied involvement.

Pakistan condemned the "terrorist attack in Kabul this morning that has caused loss of precious human lives and injuries to many".

The suicide truck bombing in the diplomatic district of Kabul, in what was supposed to be one of the most secure areas of the capital, also damaged several embassies, including the Canadian embassy.

President Ashraf Ghani made a televised address late on Wednesday, calling for national unity in the face of the attack, which his National Directorate for Security blamed on the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network, but he faces an increasingly angry public. He also suggested that the German embassy might not have been the target of the blast, which sent towering clouds of black smoke into the sky near the presidential palace.

At least 80 people were killed in the explosion on Wednesday.

There was no claim of responsibility. Almost two hours after the explosion near Zanbaq Square, a crowded area in the capital that leads to the presidential palace as well as major foreign embassies, plumes of smoke were still rising from the scene. Four journalists were wounded and treated in hospital.

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Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said: "The Islamic Emirate (as the Taliban call themselves) condemn those blasts carried out against civilians and in which civilians suffer casualties without a clear target".

The number of dead and wounded was provided by the Afghan government's media centre, citing a statement from the Afghan Ulema Council - the country's top religious body that includes Muslim clerics, scholars and men of authority in religion and law.

Afghan troops are backed by United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces, and the White House is considering sending thousands more soldiers to break the deadlock in the battle against the Taliban.

The explosion occurred near the German embassy at one of the entrances to Kabul's unofficial Green Zone.

A government source said the charter flight was scrapped because diplomatic and consular staff, "so shortly after the attack, have more important things to do than to deal with organizational matters". The province surrounding the capital had the highest number of casualties in the country in the first three months of 2017 due to multiple attacks in the city, with civilians bearing the brunt of the violence.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said employees at the German Embassy were injured and one Afghan security guard was killed.

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