At least eight people were killed and close to 200 injured when a powerful truck bomb exploded at an Afghan National Army base in Kabul early on Friday.
The blast, which rattled windows across the city, several kilometres away, targeted the base in Shah Shaheed, a rundown residential neighbourhood not far from the city centre. The death toll could be as high as 10, according to Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi.
Due to the densely constructed apartment blocks in the area, many of the injuries were caused by shattered glass, which covered the scene far beyond the police barriers which cordoned off the blast site.
At the site after the explosion, Sediq, a young factory worker, told the Guardian he had been sleeping in his office opposite the army base when the explosion woke him up about 1am. He had been cut in the side of the head but otherwise emerged unscathed.
The more seriously injured were taken to Emergency hospital in the centre of the city, which treats the majority of war wounded in the capital.
Shortly before dawn, Ekramuddin, a 50-year-old construction worker, was waiting outside for news of his three family members who had been admitted with injuries from splintered glass. His family had been asleep in their home opposite the site of the attack, and were woken up by the explosion, he said.
Rahimi told reporters at the blast site that eight people had been killed. After a visit to the hospital he adjusted the death toll to 10.
The medical coordinator of the hospital, Luca Radaelli, said it had received over 90 casualties. “It’s all a mess inside,” he said.
Hours after the blast, nobody had yet claimed responsibility. However, earlier on Thursday, a Taliban suicide truck bomber killed six people in Pul-i-Alam, the capital of Logar province, south of Kabul.
The attacks come the day after a new UN documented record high civilian casualties in the Afghan war. According to the UN, 1,591 civilians were killed and 3,329 wounded in the first six months of 2015, the highest numbers on record since the beginning of the war.
The attacks are also the first serious single incidents of violence in after the announcement last week of the death of Taliban leader Mullah Omar. The proclamation of Omar’s death has caused turbulence in the Taliban, and prompted the insurgents to postpone a second round of reconciliation talks, scheduled for last week.