A burqa-clad woman screamed and charred bodies littered the flesh-strewn road outside the Indian embassy in Kabul after a powerful suicide car bomb ripped through the building’s outer walls on Monday.
Fires and black smoke obscured the scene after the early morning blast.
The car bomb struck the vehicle of one of the Indian diplomats as it was driving into the embassy grounds in the city centre, ambassador Jayan Prasad told AFP.
The diplomat's body was flung on the roof of a nearby building and found several hours later, an embassy official said on condition of anonymity. His Afghan driver was also among the dead.
"There are charred body parts everywhere," the official said. "We are walking on rubble."
Two Indian guards were also killed along with about seven Afghan security officers providing security to the embassy in the heart of the capital, the official said.
Pictures taken immediately after the blast show blackened bodies, some naked after the force of the explosion tore off their clothes.
A badly wounded man with gashes on his leg is bent over a body, apparently of a child.
Wounded people with blood-stained clothes fled the nightmarish scene, an AFP reporter said.
A security reception area that had been reinforced with sandbags was smashed into pieces, with the gates destroyed and part of the outer wall torn up.
Even offices inside the compound, including that of the ambassador, were damaged, a witness said. Computers, desks and chairs were strewn across the ground.
A burnt patch of ground at the embassy gate was the only remainder of the car bomb. The blast destroyed several cars in the area and shattered the windows of shops hundreds of metres away.
The police immediately sealed off the road but a burqa-clad woman screamed to be allowed to pass to reach her daughter at a nearby school.
"Let me go in, for God's sake, let me go in," she wailed.
A man working in a printing shop in the area said he was inside his shop when the explosion struck.
"There was a huge explosion which shattered my and the neighbouring shops' windows," he said. "When I walked out, it was a scary scene. You could see too many people lying in blood."
The blast was the deadliest in the capital since the start of the insurgency that began after the extremist Taliban movement was removed from power in a US-led invasion in late 2001.
The Taliban, which has carried out a wave of suicide attacks, denied it was responsible for the attack.