Last Updated May 31, 2017 8:41 AM EDT
KABUL, Afghanistan – 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.
Afghanistan’s Health Ministry told CBS News the blast left more than 80 dead and more than 300 wounded.
The target of the attack – which Afghan officials said was a suicide car bombing – wasn’t immediately known but Ismail Kawasi, spokesman of the public health ministry, said most of the casualties were civilians.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast but both ISIS) have staged large-scale attacks in the Afghan capital in the past.and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (
The explosion occurred at the peak of Kabul’s rush hour when roads are packed with worktime commuters.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul put out a statement warning American citizens to avoid the area of the blast and cancelled all its appointments for routine American Citizen Services for the day.
The neighborhood is considered Kabul’s safest area, with foreign embassies, press bureaus, and government offices protected by dozens of 10-foot-high blast walls and guarded by police and national security forces.
Jessica Donati, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, said on Twitter that glass windows in her paper’s bureau were shattered. Two BBC journalists were also reportedly injured, and the Afghan TV news channel, Tolo TV, said one of their journalists was killed in the blast.
Shortly after the explosion, all roads in Wazir Akbar Khan were blocked off by Afghan security forces and helicopters were deployed over the neighborhood.