By Thursday morning, Afghan security forces had cordoned off streets hundreds of meters from the site, and workers were busy filling in the crater left by the blast. Meanwhile, traffic around the secure zone had returned to its usual, snarled state.
Afghanistan’s intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security, issued a statement attributing blame to the Haqqani Network, a Taliban-affiliated group in Pakistan. It alleged the group had received help from ISI, the Pakistani intelligence service.
A spokesman for Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has told CNN the ministry will respond later Thursday.
As the nation grieved, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani extended his “deepest condolences” in a live televised address. “It was a brutal act which has caused our countrymen grief during the holy month of Ramadan,” he said.
Reporting from the city Thursday, CNN’s Muhammad Lila said people were angry that so much money was spent by so many countries to safeguard Afghanistan’s security and the attack still couldn’t be stopped.
“The fact that this can happen in the country’s capital, that a truck filled with so many explosives could just drive up and detonate. There’s a lot of anger right now directed at officials,” he said.
Taliban deny responsibility
The Taliban has denied responsibility for the blast, and ISIS has remained silent on the issue.
The Haqqani Network has not responded to the accusation from Afghanistan’s intelligence service nor claimed responsibility for the attack.
CNN Security Analyst Rick Francona said it was “not surprising” that the network was being blamed, having previously demonstrated its ability to carry out attacks of similar scale.
“What is surprising is the ability to get this far into a secured area. They didn’t quite reach the gates of the green zone, but they got very close,” said Francona.
“Not just the US, NATO has put billions of dollars into training and reorganizing the Afghan army … I think we’re seeing the results of the failure of that effort.”
As the truck had to pass through several checkpoints, the attack represented “a real breakdown in security, and a breakdown in this area is very troubling to the Afghan people,” Francona said. “It used to be that Kabul was this island of security … now we’re seeing (violence) penetrate the capital.”
Afghan Ambassador to the UK, Said Tayeb Jawad, told CNN’s Clarissa Ward that the country’s security agencies have intercepted “many similar attacks,” including one a few days ago.
“The indications are that (Wednesday’s attack) was carried out by terrorists outside Afghanistan. Definitely the logistical work that is needed is not possible unless they get the financial and logistical support in Pakistan,” Jawad said.
“We are trying to do everything possible to reach out to Pakistan to make them understand that supporting terrorist groups is not going to benefit Afghanistan or Pakistan. So far our effort has not been fruitful,” he added.
Embassies, companies targeted
The explosion happened close to Western embassies, government institutions and various residencies of high-ranking officials.
The BBC said driver Mohammed Nazir, who had worked with the broadcaster for four years and had a young family, died in the blast. Four BBC journalists were injured, but their injuries are not thought to be life threatening, according to a BBC World Service statement.
German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said the bombing was in the “immediate vicinity” of its embassy. The French and Canadian embassies were also damaged in the blast, as were the offices of broadcaster 1TV Afghanistan.
Layma Tabibi, an Afghan-American who works at a local consulting firm, heard the blast and told CNN a lot of casualties appeared to be from the Roshan telecommunications company.
“Afghans. It’s always Afghans,” she said, when asked who suffered in such attacks. “It’s always Afghans that are harmed and get killed, rather than who the attacker wants to target.”
CNN’s Faith Karimi and Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this report. Journalist Aleem Agha contributed reporting from Kabul.