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Carnage And Chaos In Kabul: Taliban Car Bombing Kills At Least 95

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Let's turn now to international news from Afghanistan. In Afghanistan today, the Taliban drove an ambulance packed with explosives into a crowded street, killing at least 95 people and injuring another 158. Jennifer Glasse has this report from the Afghan capital, Kabul.

(SOUNDBITE OF AMBULANCE SIRENS)

JENNIFER GLASSE, BYLINE: For hours after the attack, ambulances ferried the wounded and the dead from the blast scene to hospitals. Bandaged victims were loaded onto already bloodstained orange stretchers at Kabul's emergency hospital. Many of the injured weren't sure what had happened, like Dar Omed (ph), his head wrapped in a white bandage. He said it was a scene of carnage.

DAR OMED: (Foreign language spoken).

GLASSE: "The casualties were very high, he said, "bodies were everywhere near the hospital and everywhere. I don't know if the attacker was on foot or it was a car bomb."

OMED: (Foreign language spoken).

GLASSE: It was actually an ambulance bomb. The driver pretended to be dropping off patients at the nearby Jamhuriat Hospital. He went through the first checkpoint on the heavily-guarded street. When he didn't make the turn into the hospital entrance, police became suspicious. Then he detonated the vehicle at a second checkpoint. The Taliban claim it was targeting the police, but scores of civilians were killed or injured. The United Nations special representative called the attack an atrocity and said in a statement a massive vehicle bomb in a densely-populated area could not reasonably be expected to leave civilians unharmed.

He also said he was particularly disturbed the attackers used an ambulance in clear violation of humanitarian law. It's the second attack in Kabul in a week. Last weekend, Taliban fighters battled security forces for more than 15 hours in a siege that killed 25. The Afghan government says the Taliban is retaliating because of the military pressure on their fighters and the political pressure on Pakistan, which Afghanistan says backs the Taliban. For NPR News, I'm Jennifer Glasse in Kabul. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.