A look at deadly Afghan insurgent attacks in recent years

"Unfortunately the toll has reached 80 martyred (killed) and over 300 wounded, including many women and children", said health ministry spokesman Waheed Majroh, adding the figures would continue to climb as more bodies are pulled from the debris.

The members of the Security Council condemned in the strongest terms the heinous and cowardly terrorist attack that took place during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in the Wazir Akbar Khan area in Kabul on 31 May 2017, which resulted in more than 80 deaths and at least 350 injuries, nearly all of them civilians, including women, children and members of the media. The health minister said death toll could rise since numerous injured were critical. The Taliban - now in the midst of their annual "spring offensive" - tweeted that they were not involved and "strongly condemn" the attack.

The explosives were hidden in a tanker truck used to clean out septic systems, said Najib Danish, deputy spokesman for the interior minister.

At least 80 people are dead, hundreds are wounded. Pakistani officials in Kabul told Daily Times by phone that the blast blew out window panes of some of the houses of embassy officials.

Trump "condemned the attack, which occurred during the holy month of Ramadan, underscoring the barbaric nature of the terrorists who are enemies of all civilized peoples", the White House said in a readout of the call.

President Ashraf Ghani slammed the bombing, the deadliest single attack in Kabul since the Taliban were toppled from power in a 2001 US-led invasion, as a "war crime".

Since the withdrawal of most worldwide troops in 2014, the extremists have gained ground and now control about 40% of the country, according to United States estimates.

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Although they are small in number, militants from the Islamic State in Khorasan - an ancient name for parts of Afghanistan, Iran and Central Asia - have taken credit for several brazen assaults on the capital. "There was a clear failure to anticipate a major security threat in a highly secured area", said Michael Kugelman of the USA -based Wilson Center.

"The vigilance and courage of Afghan security forces prevented the VBIED (vehicle-borne improvised explosive device) from gaining entry to the Green Zone, but the explosion caused civilian casualties", North Atlantic Treaty Organisation said in a statement.

Afghan lawmaker and analyst Nasrullah Sadeqizada bemoaned the abysmal security, saying "the situation is deteriorating day by day".

In the past year, US troops have largely focused on thwarting a surge in Taliban attacks.

The stricken neighborhood was considered Kabul's safest, with the embassies protected by dozens of 10-foot-high blast walls and government offices guarded by security forces.

Rescue workers were digging bodies from the site hours after the explosion, many of them disfigured and charred, as anguished residents searched for missing relatives. All the windows in his shop and others around him were shattered, he added.

Local TV footage showed shocked residents soaked in blood stumbling about, then being ferried away to hospitals. Passers-by stopped and helped the wounded into private cars, others congregated outside the nearby Italian-run Emergency Hospital.

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France also reported damage to its own embassy and the German one. The Chinese, Turkish and Iranian embassies are also located there.

The blast forced the US Embassy in Kabul to cancel all appointments for routine American Citizen Services and reminded all US citizens that serious threats to safety and security exist in the city of Kabul and throughout Afghanistan.

The BBC said one of its drivers was killed and four of its journalists were wounded. Germany, Japan and Pakistan said some of their embassy employees and staff were hurt in the explosion.

Germany's Interior Ministry says deportation of Afghans whose asylum requests have been rejected has been temporarily suspended in the wake of an attack in Kabul that seriously damaged the German Embassy.

Chancellor Angela Merkel condemned the attack, saying that "terrorism has no borders".

It "targets all of us - whether in Manchester or Berlin, Paris, Istanbul, St. Petersburg or today in Kabul", she said in the southern German city of Nuremberg.

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