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Deadly Kabul blast leaves 95 dead, 158 wounded; Taliban claims responsibility

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for Saturday's deadly blast in Kabul which left over 95 people dead and at least 158 injured.

Deadly Kabul blast leaves 95 dead, 158 wounded; Taliban claims responsibility

KABUL: An explosives-packed ambulance blew up in a crowded area of Kabul on Saturday, killing at least 95 people and wounding 158 others, officials said, in one of the biggest blasts to rock the war-torn city in recent years.

The death toll from Saturday's ambulance bomb attack in Afghanistan's capital Kabul reached 95 with at least 158 people wounded, a senior Health Ministry official confirmed.

''The toll now stands at 95 and at least 158 are wounded,'' Health Ministry spokesman Waheed Majroh said.

The confirmation came shortly after another official warned that an earlier death toll of 63 could rise further.

The deadly attack took place after a Taliban suicide bomber exploded an ambulance laden with explosives near Sidarat Square in central Kabul where several government offices are located.

The explosion occurred at around 12.50 ppm near the old building which still houses some ministry offices.

Kabul Police spokesperson, Basir Mujahid, told reporters that "a suicide bomber with a car laden with explosives tried to penetrate the complex (the Interior Ministry), but detonated the vehicle as he was being identified by police at the checkpoint".

The assault triggered chaotic scenes as terrified survivors fled the area scattered with body parts, blood and debris, and hospitals were overwhelmed by a large number of wounded.

Meanwhile, the Taliban claimed the responsibility for the attack in a message on the social network Telegram stating that "a martyr in a car bomb reached the first checkpoint near the Interior Ministry".

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid said that at the time of the explosion, a large contingent of police officers was in the area.

The attack comes amid a recent surge in terrorist attacks on civilian targets by the Taliban and Islamic State.

Last weekend over 20 people died at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul during an assault by six armed attackers who clashed with security forces for 12 hours.

On Wednesday, the IS led an attack on Save the Children's headquarters in Jalalabad killing four NGO employees, a passerby and a security force member along with the five terrorists.

Although in the first nine months of 2017 the civilian death toll dropped by 6 percent - its first decline since 2012 - the toll of 2,640 dead and 5,379 wounded, remains too high, according to a UN report.

India condemns Kabul attack as 'barbaric and dastardly'

The Government of India today strongly condemned the "barbaric and dastardly" terrorist attack in Kabul targeting innocent civilians, and extended all possible assistance, including for treatment of the injured.

"There can be no justification for such reprehensible attacks. The perpetrators of these attacks and their supporters should be brought to justice," the Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement.

India stands in solidarity with the government and the people of Afghanistan at this difficult times of mindless violence and terror imposed on them.

"We convey our heartfelt condolences to the next of kin of the victims of these terror attacks and pray for speedy recovery of those injured. India stands ready to extend all possible assistance, including for treatment of those injured," it said.

(With Agency inputs)