WASHINGTON (AFP) - President Donald Trump has called for "decisive action" against the Taleban after a bomb attack killed at least 95 people in one of the biggest blasts to rock war-torn Kabul in years.
"I condemn the despicable car bombing attack in Kabul today that has left scores of innocent civilians dead and hundreds injured. This murderous attack renews our resolve and that of our Afghan partners," Trump said in a statement on Saturday (Jan 27).
"Now, all countries should take decisive action against the Taleban and the terrorist infrastructure that supports them."
Afghanistan has been plunged into war since the October 2001 US invasion - the opening shots in Washington's "war on terrorism."
"The Taleban's cruelty will not prevail," Trump added.
"The United States is committed to a secure Afghanistan that is free from terrorists who would target Americans, our allies and anyone who does not share their wicked ideology."
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson condemned the "senseless" attack, insisting there can be "no tolerance for those who support or offer sanctuary to terrorist groups."
An explosives-packed ambulance was used for the bombing in a crowded part of the Afghan capital.
Terrified survivors fled the area which was scattered with body parts, blood and debris, and hospitals were overwhelmed by the large number of wounded, who numbered at least 158.
The blast happened in an area where several high-profile organisations, including the European Union, have offices.
Members of the EU delegation in Kabul were in their "safe room" and there were no casualties, an official told AFP.
The force of the explosion shook windows of buildings at least two km away and caused some low-rise structures in the immediate vicinity to collapse.
The suicide bomber passed through at least one checkpoint, saying he was taking a patient to Jamuriate hospital, an interior ministry spokesman told AFP.
"At the second checkpoint he was recognised and blew his explosive-laden car," Nasrat Rahimi said.
Rahimi told a news conference that most of the victims were civilians.
Twenty minutes before the blast an AFP reporter saw police checking ambulances several hundred metres from the scene of the explosion, as the drivers and patients stood on the street.
Ambulances are rarely checked in the city.
"The Taleban's use of an ambulance as a weapon to target civilians represents inhumane disregard for the people of Afghanistan and all those working to bring peace to the country," Tillerson said, adding that the attack breached "the most basic international norms."
"All countries who support peace in Afghanistan have an obligation to take decisive action to stop the Taleban's campaign of violence."
Although Tillerson did not name any specific countries, Washington has repeatedly accused Pakistan of neglect in cracking down on militant groups such as the Taleban or their Haqqani allies.
Trump lashed out at Pakistan in early January, denouncing Islamabad's "lies" and "deceit" in the fight against terrorism - with the US suspending hundreds of millions of dollars in security assistance.