Dozens of Afghan civilians killed after massive explosion rips through the heart of the capital's diplomatic district.
Wounded men arrive at a hospital in Kabul after the blast [Mohammad Ismail/Reuters]
A suspected truck bomb has ripped through the heart of Kabul's diplomatic district, killing at least 80 people and wounding hundreds, in a powerful blast described by officials as "one of the biggest" to have hit the Afghan capital.
Sources said Wednesday's suicide attack took place near Zanbaq square, in Kabul's 10th district, close to shops and restaurants, as well as government offices and foreign embassies.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility. Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, told Al Jazeera that the group was not responsible for the attack.
Police and health officials confirmed to Al Jazeera that at least 80 people were killed and more than 300 wounded in the attack. The death toll was expected to rise.
The victims appear mainly to have been Afghan civilians and there were no immediate reports of casualties among foreign embassy staff.
Video shot at the scene showed burning debris, crumbled walls and buildings and destroyed cars, many with dead or wounded people inside.
Al Jazeera's Qais Azimy, reporting from Kabul, said the location of the attack was very significant, as it hit one of the Afghan capital's busiest and most secure parts.
"Kabul has been very quiet for the past week but police has confirmed to us that this was one of the biggest blasts Kabul has ever seen," he said.
Azimy said police were investigating the possibility that the attacker had detonated a truck packed with explosives.
"If that is true, if a truck full of explosives could manage to get to that highly secure part of Kabul, then that is going to raise a lot of questions - not only among those diplomats living in the area, but also Kabul's regular residents."
Women mourn outside a hospital in Kabul after the blast [Mohammad Ismail/Reuters]
Sushma Swaraj, India's minister of external affairs, tweeted that all of the staff at the Indian embassy "were safe in the massive Kabul blast".
French officials said the country's embassy in Kabul was damaged in the attack, but there were no signs at this stage of any victims.
Ambulances rushed to the scene of the blast, while a huge plume of smoke could be seen rising from the area.
Houses and shops hundreds of metres away from the blast site were damaged, with windows and doors blown off their hinges.
"The explosion was so loud that it shattered all my windows, did not hear something this big before," Fatima Faizi, a Kabul resident, told Al Jazeera.
The explosion hit one of Kabul's busiest parts [Reuters]