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Kabul: Indian Embassy Bombing Kills 40

40 have been reportedly killed in a car bombing of the Indian Embassy in Kabul hours ago.

The massive explosion detonated by a suicide bomber damaged two embassy vehicles entering the compound, near where dozens of Afghan men line up every morning to apply for visas.

The embassy is located on a busy, tree-lined street near Afghanistan's Interior Ministry in the city center. Several nearby shops were damaged or destroyed in the blast, and smoldering ruins covered the street. The explosion rattled much of the Afghan capital.

"Several shopkeepers have died. I have seen shopkeepers under the rubble," a shopkeeper who was wounded in the blast, Ghulam Dastagir, said.

An Interior Ministry spokesman, Najib Nikzad, said the blast killed 40 people. Earlier, the spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health, Abdullah Fahim, said the explosion killed at least 28 people and wounded 141, but an update of the number of injured was not immediately available. The Interior Ministry said six police officers and three embassy guards were among those killed.

In Delhi, India's foreign minister said four Indians, including the military attache, were killed in the attack.

The explosion appeared to be the deadliest attack at Kabul since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. It was the deadliest in Afghanistan since a suicide bomber killed more than 100 people at a dog fighting competition at Kandahar province in February.

Kabul is the end of the northern-most leg of the ancient Asian trade route, the Great Trunk Road. Its final legs extend from Islamabad, Pakistan, through Peshawar and extending through the Khyber Pass and Jalalabad, Afghanistan. It also serves as a vital logistics route for getting goods and supplies to NATO forces - not without irony or difficulty through what is considered 'enemy territory' of Pakistan's FATA.

This week, we will be plotting the final leg of the Great Trunk Road, where conflict either upon or straddling the vital route continues apace.

UPDATE: From the South Asia Analysis Group, see also: Suicide Car Bomber Targets Indian Mission in Kabul - International Terrorism Monitor.