Germany suspends deportation flights to Afghanistan after Kabul attack

A massive explosion rocked a highly secure diplomatic area of Kabul Wednesday morning, causing casualties and sending a huge plume of smoke over the Afghan capital.

"I have been to many attacks, taken wounded people out of many blast sites, but I can say I have ever seen such a frightful attack as I saw this morning", ambulance driver Alef Ahmadzai told The Associated Press.

While the motive was not immediately clear, the attack underscores the extreme insecurity in Afghanistan, where a military is incapable of beating back the insurgents, who now control over a third of the country. Both the Taliban and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have staged large-scale attacks in the Afghan capital in the past.

The blast hit during the morning rush hour in Kabul when everyone was going to work.

An Afghan security officer who had been protecting the German Embassy died in the attack, and while members of the embassy's staff were injured, "All are now safe", says German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel.

The blast was the latest in a series of attacks in the Afghan capital.

Afghan officials say 64 people were killed and as many as 320 were wounded.

The BBC confirmed that a local driver, Mohammed Nazir, was killed in the attack as he drove journalist colleagues to an office.

The attack, which appeared to be one of the bloodiest of the long Afghan war, shattered windows as far as a mile away, causing panic in much of central Kabul.

The blast blew in the doors and windows of the embassy building, Esme Nicholson reports for NPR from Berlin.

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"The employees (at the embassy in Kabul) have an important logistical part to play in receiving the deported people. they can not carry out this job properly so soon after the attack", said an interior ministry spokesman.

The Taliban denied responsibility for the attack in a statement. Afghanistan's private Tolo Television also reported a staffer killed, and Germany said an Afghan security guard outside its embassy was among those who died.

Germany was forced to postpone a scheduled deportation flight of rejected Afghan asylum-seekers in the wake of the attack.

One Afghan guard is missing. The Islamic State group is a more recent development, forming in the last few years and largely made up of dissident former Taliban militants.

An injured man is cairred after a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, May 31, 2017.

The dead and wounded were nearly all Afghan civilians and security personnel: policemen, bank clerks, cart pullers, telephone company workers.

Afghan president Ashraf Ghani condemned the terror attack in a statement.

Afghan troops are backed by U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation forces, and the Pentagon has reportedly asked the White House to send thousands more troops to the country to break the deadlock in the fight against the Taliban.

China's foreign ministry said its embassy was partly damaged but that no employees or Chinese citizens were injured.

U.S. Commander John Nicholson requested more troops from the Senate armed forces committee earlier this year.

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