KABUL • A huge truck bomb tore through central Kabul yesterday, killing 15 civilians and wounding 240 others in the first major attack in the Afghan capital since the announcement of Taleban leader Mullah Omar's death.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes as the Taleban stepped up its summer offensive despite a bitter power transition within the movement.
A truck packed with explosives detonated just after midnight near an army base in the neighbourhood of Shah Shaheed, rattling homes across the city.
The force of the explosion left an enormous crater in the road, around 10m deep, and reduced the front of nearby buildings to rubble.
"The death toll from the early Friday attack has risen to 15," deputy presidential spokesman Sayed Zafar Hashemi said, adding that "more than 240 people had been wounded".
The health ministry said the number of wounded could run even higher, with most suffering injuries from flying glass.
Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi said officials were searching for anyone trapped under the mangled debris.
"The killed and wounded include women and children, and labourers of a nearby marble stone company... The attack was intended to cause mass murder," he said.
Soldiers erected a security cordon around the military base close to Shah Shaheed, a largely middle-class civilian residential area with no major foreign presence.
The wounded were overwhelming city hospitals, officials said, with reports emerging of blood shortages and urgent appeals for donors circulating on social media.
The carnage comes a day after Taleban insurgents killed nine people in attacks on police targets in southern and eastern Afghanistan.
The attacks highlight growing insecurity amid a faltering peace process with the Taleban, as Afghan forces face their first summer fighting season without full Nato support.
Nato has condemned the bombing as a "contemptible act of violence".