The Cable

Massive Blast Kills 80 in Kabul’s Diplomatic Quarter

The worst attack in almost a year.

Afghan security forces personnel are seen at the site of a car bomb attack in Kabul on May 31, 2017.
At least 40 people were killed or wounded on May 31 as a massive blast ripped through Kabul's diplomatic quarter, shattering the morning rush hour and bringing carnage to the streets of the Afghan capital. / AFP PHOTO / SHAH MARAI        (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)
Afghan security forces personnel are seen at the site of a car bomb attack in Kabul on May 31, 2017. At least 40 people were killed or wounded on May 31 as a massive blast ripped through Kabul's diplomatic quarter, shattering the morning rush hour and bringing carnage to the streets of the Afghan capital. / AFP PHOTO / SHAH MARAI (Photo credit should read SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

Dozens were killed in a car bomb in the diplomatic quarter of Kabul, Afghanistan on Wednesday. At least 80 were killed, and at least 350 wounded. The attack is one of the deadliest seen inside Afghanistan.

A spokesperson for the Kabul police told Reuters that, although the bomb went off near the German embassy, it is “hard to say what the exact target is.” An Afghan staffer at the German Embassy was killed, and employees at the German and Japanese embassies were wounded.

Additionally, the BBC said an Afghan driver had been killed, as was a technology worker with the ToloNews Afghan television channel. But the identities of most of the victims are still unknown.

It’s not clear who was behind the attack. The Taliban denied responsibility, and the Islamic State has yet to comment. Both have been active in recent terrorist attacks there.

“What this awful blast makes crystal clear is that now, more than ever, the Trump administration needs to announce its new Afghanistan policy. The situation on the ground is growing increasingly critical, and clarity about US plans has never been more necessary,” Michael Kugelman, Deputy Director of the Asia Program at The Wilson Center said in an email to reporters.

The White House, which condemned the attack on Wednesday, is reportedly considering sending up to 5,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to help bolster the counterterrorism training mission, though the administration is torn between those pushing greater U.S. escalation and those cautious of another mini-surge.

On Wednesday, U.S. Embassy Kabul Special Charge D’Affaires Hugo Llorens released a statement condemning the attack, which, taking place during the holy month of Ramadan, “demonstrates these terrorists’ complete disregard for human life and nihilistic opposition to the dream of a peaceful future for Afghanistan.”

This post will be updated as the situation develops.

Photo credit: SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

Emily Tamkin is a staff writer at Foreign Policy covering ambassadorial and diplomatic affairs in Washington. @emilyctamkin

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