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Kabul blast: Dozens of casualties in Afghan capital

Kabul blast: Dozens of casualties in Afghan capital

Injured man in Kabul blast, 31 May Kabul blast: Dozens of casualties in Afghan capital

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Reuters

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Dozens of casualties have been reported in the explosion

A huge explosion has hit the Afghan capital, Kabul, close to foreign embassies and the presidential palace.

The latest figures from the Afghan health ministry say at least nine people have been killed and 84 injured.

Early reports say the blast was caused by a car bomb in central Zanbaq Square, with windows and doors blown out hundreds of metres away.

Images on social media show a large cloud of black smoke over the city and a series of destroyed vehicles.

The BBC Harun Nazafijada in Kabul describes a chaotic scene with people being transferred to hospital.

The central blast area has been cordoned off by police.

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The area of the blast has been cordoned off by police

Our correspondent says burnt-out cars are one indication of the blast's force. Images of shattered glass carpeting a large area of the square are also being shared widely on social media.

Basir Mujahid a spokesman for Kabul police, told Reuters news agency: "It was a car bomb near the German embassy, but there are several other important compounds and offices near there too. It is hard to say what the exact target is."

No group has yet said it carried out Wednesday's attack, but last month the Taliban announced the start of a major spring offensive, saying their main focus would be foreign forces, targeting them with a mix of conventional, guerrilla, insider and suicide attacks.

The US has about 8,400 troops in Afghanistan, with another 5,000 from Nato allies.

A recent Taliban attack on an Afghan army training compound in the northern city of Mazar-e Sharif killed at least 135 soldiers, and led to the resignation of the defence minister and army chief of staff.

The so-called Islamic State in Afghanistan has also been active, saying it was behind a suicide bomb attack this month on a Nato convoy that was passing the US embassy in Kabul. At least eight civilians were killed.

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A policeman shows our correspondent a piece of shrapnel from the blast

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