By RAHIM FAIEZ and AMIR SHAH
KABUL, Afghanistan — A massive suicide car bombing rocked a highly secure diplomatic area of Kabul on Wednesday morning, killing 80 people and wounding as many as 350, an attack that left a scene of mayhem and destruction and sent a huge plume of smoke over the Afghan capital.
The target of the explosion in the Wazir Akbar Khan area was not immediately known, but Ismail Kawasi, spokesman of the public health ministry, said most of the casualties were civilians, including women and children.
It was one of the worst attacks Kabul had seen since the drawdown of foreign forces from the country at the end of 2014. The bombing also raised serious questions about the Afghan government’s ability to secure the war-battered nation.
Associated Press images from the scene showed the German Embassy and several other embassies located in the area heavily damaged. Germany, Japan and Pakistan said some of their embassy employees and staff were hurt in the explosion.
The BBC said a driver for the British broadcaster was killed and four of its journalists were wounded. Afghanistan’s private TOLO Television also reported a staffer killed; Germany said an Afghan security guard outside its embassy was among those killed.
The explosion took place at the peak of Kabul’s rush hour, when roads are packed with worktime commuters. Najib Danish, deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said the suicide car bomber detonated his explosives close to a busy intersection in the Wazir Akbar Khan district.
The neighborhood is considered Kabul’s safest area, with foreign embassies protected by dozens of 10-foot-high blast walls and government offices, guarded by police and national security forces. The German Embassy, the Foreign Ministry and the Presidential Palace are all in the area, as are the British and the Canadian embassies. The Chinese, Turkish and Iranian embassies are also located there.
The U.S Embassy and the NATO mission in Kabul, located about…