UPDATE 1 – Car bomb explodes in central Kabul, killing at least 18 people

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A car bomb has exploded in a crowded area in the Afghan capital of Kabul, killing at least 18 people and injuring more than 110 others, local officials and witnesses say. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The incident happened at about 12:45 p.m. local time on Saturday when an explosives-laden ambulance was detonated near Sadarat Square in Kabul. It happened near a former building of the Interior Ministry, as well as buildings housing an intelligence agency, the Afghan High Peace Council, and foreign embassies.

Only few details were immediately available, but Afghan officials said at least 18 people had been killed as a result of the blast. In addition, about 110 people were transported to area hospitals, including 70 victims who were rushed to the Emergency Hospital.

“It’s a massacre,” said Dejan Panic, the coordinator in Afghanistan for the Italian aid group Emergency.

The exact number of casualties was not immediately known but the death toll is likely to rise. Photos and videos from the scene showed damaged cars and buildings at the site, as well as windows which were blown out across the neighborhood.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it targeted police officers.

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