ROME — Pope Francis has sent his condolences after a terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, killed at least 80 people, and left over 300 others injured.
The bomb went off in the diplomatic quarter at 8:30 in the morning local time, during rush hour.
The message, sent through the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said the pope “commends the souls of the deceased to the mercy of the Almighty, and assures the people of Afghanistan of his continued prayers for peace.”
The pope’s message called the attack “abhorrent,” and a “brutal act of violence.”
The area of the capital is called the Green Zone, one of the most fortified and tightly secured places in the country, and officials are unsure how the bomb – suspected to have been in a large truck – was allowed into the district.
The blast happened near the presidential palace, and the German, Chinese, Turkish, French, Iranian and Japanese embassies have reported they suffered damage.
Germany’s embassy was the closest to the bomb, and officials said an Afghan security guard was killed, and other staff were injured.
The United States embassy is in a different part of the Green Zone.
The U.S. Embassy’s Special Charge d’Affaires Hugo Llorens put out a statement saying the “horrific and shameful attack demonstrates these terrorists’ complete disregard for human life and their nihilistic opposition to the dream of a peaceful future for Afghanistan. The terrorists, and those who provide them support in any form, deserve the utter scorn of all civilized people around the world.”
Abdullah Abdullah, the the Chief Executive of the country, sent out a series of tweets condemning the attack, and stated “we want peace but, those who kill us in the holy month of Ramadan [aren’t] worth a call for peace, they [must] be destroyed and uprooted.”
The Taliban have denied responsibility for the attack.
The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for a similar attack in July 2016, in which two bombs killed 80 people in a predominantly Shia neighborhood of Kabul.
After that attack, Francis invited people to pray that the seemingly “insurmountable” obstacles to peace may be overcome.