At least 28 people were killed and hundreds injured on Tuesday when Taliban militants detonated a truck bomb outside Afghanistan's main security agency and a gun battle ensued.
The attack, which took place in a crowded area in Kabul during morning rush hour, was by far the biggest in the Afghan capital since a truck bombing wounded 240 people last August, and the first since the Taliban declared the start of their spring offensive last week.
Police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi said civilians and members of the Afghan security forces were among the dead and wounded.
"The smoke turned the sky black, glass from windows was falling all around me," Haji Shafiq, a travel agent who was walking to his office which is within 500 meters of where the explosion took place, told VICE News. "I was lucky to survive, for few minutes my body was shaking, I couldn't talk. The only thing I could hear after the explosion was people screaming and asking for help."
Qandar Ustad, a mechanic whose shop is also nearby, said: ''It was a very loud bang. Dust and shrapnel started falling through the roof of my shop and I even saw body parts of people flying and dropping on the ground. I rushed home and thank God my kids and myself are safe.''
President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms" in a statement from the presidential palace, only a few hundred meters away from the scene of the blast in central Kabul.
The Taliban announced the beginning of their spring offensive on April 12, and fighting has raged around the symbolically important northern city of Kunduz since then, although the capital had been relatively quiet.
Kunduz, Afghanistan's fifth-largest city, fell briefly to the Taliban last September in the biggest blow to Ghani's government since NATO-led forces ended their combat operations at the end of 2014.
The Taliban said on their Pashto-language website that they had carried out the suicide bombing on "Department 10," a unit of Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security which is responsible for protecting government ministers and VIPs.
The Taliban-led insurgency has gained strength since the withdrawal of most international combat troops at the end of 2014, and the Taliban are believed to be stronger than at any point since they were driven from power by US-backed forces in 2001.
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