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At Least Nine Dead, More Than 90 Wounded In Huge Kabul Blast

An Afghan security force member stands at the site of a massive car bomb attack in Kabul on May 31.
An Afghan security force member stands at the site of a massive car bomb attack in Kabul on May 31.

KABUL -- At least nine people were killed and more than 90 were wounded in a powerful explosion in the center of Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, on May 31, a Health Ministry official said, adding that the number of victims is likely to rise.

The huge blast occurred at the peak of Kabul's morning rush hour, in an area close to the presidential palace and foreign embassies and was caused by a car bomb, police said.

Basir Mujahid, a spokesman for Kabul police, said several people were killed and wounded in the blast near the fortified entrance to the German Embassy.

"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," Mujahid said.

Details on the blast in the Wazir Akbar Khan district were sketchy. The neighborhood is considered Kabul's safest area, with foreign embassies protected by 3-meter-high blast walls and government offices guarded by police and national security forces.

Najib Danish, deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, was quoted by the Associated Press as saying at least 50 people were killed or wounded.

Danish said the blast was so large that more than 30 vehicles were either destroyed or damaged.

The explosion shattered windows, blew doors off their hinges in houses hundreds of meters away, and sent plumes of black smoke spiraling over the city center.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast. A spokesman for Taliban insurgents said he was gathering information.

The attack came amid the Taliban's annual "spring offensive."

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

The blast was the latest in a series 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.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, AFP, and dpa