KABUL, Afghanistan — At least 95 people were killed and at least 158 others were injured when a bomb placed in an ambulance set off a huge explosion on a busy Kabul street on Saturday, Afghan officials said.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which came days after a 15-hour siege by the militants at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul left 22 dead, including 14 foreigners.
The explosion happened on a guarded street that leads to an old Interior Ministry building and several embassies, officials said. Many ministry departments still have offices there, and visitors line up every day for routine business.
“I saw a flame that blinded my eyes, then I went unconscious,” said Nazeer Ahmad, 45, who was wounded in the head. “When I opened my eyes, I saw bodies lying on the ground.”
Baseer Mujahid, a spokesman for the Kabul police, said the bomber had driven past the first checkpoint at the entrance to the street.
“Police stopped the vehicle at the second checkpoint,” Mr. Mujahid said. “Then he tried to drive in from the wrong lane. Again, the police tried to stop him. But he detonated the explosive-laden vehicle.”
Ambulances and police trucks loaded up victims and took them to the city’s hospitals, which were overwhelmed by the number of wounded. Officials feared that the death toll could rise.
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“It’s a massacre,” said Dejan Panic, the coordinator in Afghanistan for the Italian aid group Emergency, which runs a nearby trauma hospital. At least 70 people were brought to the group’s Kabul hospital.
Many of the buildings and shops on the street were shattered, their windows blown out. Chaos prevailed as security forces started brawling among themselves, and as family members begged the police to allow them on the street to seek news of loved ones.
“It is a critical situation,” said Waheed Majroh, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health.