A relative of a victim is helped as he cries after a deadly suicide attack in Kabul on Saturday, when a bomb placed in an ambulance exploded killing at least 95 persons and wounding over 100. The attack has been claimed by the Taliban. (Photo: AP)
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 Taliban-claimed assault — the second carried out by the militant group in the Afghan capital in a week — triggered chaotic scenes as terrified survivors fled the area scattered with body parts, blood and debris, and hospitals were overwhelmed by the large number of wounded.
It came as both the insurgents and the Islamic State group have escalated their attacks on Kabul, one of the deadliest places in Afghanistan for civilians.
The blast occurred metres from the Jamuriate hospital, where medical staff struggled to treat the bloodied men, women and children lying on the floor in corridors.
The blast happened in an area where several high-profile organisations, including the European Union, have offices. Members of the EU delegation in Kabul were in their "safe room" and there were no casualties.
The force of the explosion shook windows of buildings at least two kilometres (more than a mile) away and caused some low-rise structures in the immediate vicinity to collapse.
The suicide bomber passed through at least one checkpoint in the ambulance, saying he was taking a patient to the Jamuriate hospital, interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said. "At the second checkpoint he was recognised and blew his explosive-laden car."
Rahimi told a news conference that most of the victims were civilians. He said the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani Network was responsible and four suspects had been arrested.
Twenty minutes before the blast an AFP reporter saw police checking ambulances several hundred metres from the scene of the explosion, as the drivers and patients stood on the street. Ambulances are rarely checked in the city.