KABUL, Afghanistan -- A bomb ripped through the gates of the Indian Embassy on Monday, killing 41 people and scattering bodies and pools of blood across some of Kabul's most protected Streets. Afghanistan quickly blamed Pakistan, India's archrival.
The suicide car bomber followed a diplomat's vehicle and detonated the explosives at the building's main entrance, only 30 yards from where dozens of Afghans had lined up to apply for visas. The blast was the deadliest in Kabul since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Nearly 150 other people were wounded.
Women and children browsing nearby shops were among the victims who lay on the ground, bloodied and in agony, crying for help. Debris covered the pavement, including sandals, a wrecked bicycle and heaps of twisted metal.
The embassy is on a busy, tree-lined street near Afghanistan's Interior Ministry that is protected on both ends by police, though the checkpoints are easily driven past. The 8:30 a.m. explosion rattled much of Kabul and kicked up gray dust that shrouded the bodies of the dead and enveloped the survivors -- a monochromatic coating broken only by the crimson blood of the wounded. The blast blew clothing off many victims.
President Hamid Karzai condemned the bombing and said it was carried out by militants trying to rupture the Afghan-India friendship. He told the Indian prime minister during a phone conversation that Afghanistan would do all it could do identify the attackers.
The Afghan Interior Ministry hinted that the attack was carried out with help from Pakistan's intelligence service, saying the blast happened "in coordination and consultation with some of the active intelligence circles in the region."
A spokesman for Pakistan's Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the bombing. The Pakistani foreign minister said his country condemned the attack and all forms of terrorism.
The bombing showed that Afghanistan is also a theater for the struggle between longtime rivals India and Pakistan.
"These attacks seem designed to sabotage any improvement of relations between Pakistan and either of its two neighbors, India and Afghanistan, to assure that Pakistan has no alternative but to continue to support militant organizations as part of its foreign policy," said Barnett Rubin, an Afghanistan expert at New York University.
At Kabul's hospitals, anguished parents railed against the Afghan government.
"Where is the security?" cried Mirwais, a father of four who knew that two of his children had been killed. Before heading to another hospital to search for his other two children, he shouted obscenities at Karzai.
Six police officers and three embassy guards were among the dead.
Associated Press writers Rahim Faiez and Fisnik Abrashi contributed to this report.