Kabul bomb: Diplomatic zone attack kills dozens

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  • Philippines president Duterte says he ”will not talk to terrorists”

A powerful vehicle bomb has hit the diplomatic area of the Afghan capital, Kabul, killing at least 80 people and injuring 350.

It struck near Zanbaq Square in the heavily fortified zone, with civilians said to be the main casualties.

The morning rush-hour blast created a massive crater and blew out windows and doors hundreds of metres away.

The Taliban have denied carrying out the attack. There has been no word so far from so-called Islamic State.

Both groups have been behind recent attacks in the country.

The BBC has said that Mohammed Nazir, a driver for the corporation’s Afghan service, died in the explosion.

The bomb went off at about 08:25 local time (03:55 GMT) during rush hour at the diplomatic quarter.

Makeshift ambulances carried wounded away from the scene, as frantic relatives gathered both at the cordoned-off perimeter of the blast site and later at hospitals to try to locate loved ones.

Images showed dozens of blackened and burned out cars. More than 50 vehicles were destroyed.

Basir Mujahid a spokesman for Kabul police, told Reuters news agency the explosion had taken place close to the German embassy but added it was “hard to say what the exact target is”.

There are many other key buildings in the area, including the presidential palace and a number of embassies, including the British.

Some reports say the bomb was in a lorry or water tanker. One Western diplomatic source told Agence France-Presse it was packed with more than 1,500kg of explosives

The BBC’s Harun Najafizada in Kabul says questions are already being asked about how the vehicle could have penetrated such a heavily fortified area, with its 3m (10ft) high blast walls, to carry out the deadliest attack in the capital in years.

In the meantime, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday he would not talk to Muslim rebels who are fighting the military and occupying parts of a southern city, and that he was determined to keep the Islamic State group out of the country.

Duterte`s latest remarks on the crisis in Marawi City is a change in stance from last week, when he urged Maute militants to talk with him. “I will not talk to the terrorists,” he said in a speech to the military in Davao City on Wednesday.

Outraged by what he believes is insincerity towards a peace process he has started with communist rebels fighting a separate, long-running conflict, Duterte said its exiled leadership would be arrested if they came back to the Philippines.

He has previously invited them to return home and even offered them government posts.

BBC with additional report from Zee

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