Vatican City, May 31, 2017 / 06:35 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After a major suicide bomb tore through a busy neighborhood in Kabul, killing at least 80 people, Pope Francis condemned the ‘brutal’ act, offering his prayers for the victims and for peace in the country. “Having learned with sadness of the abhorrent attack in Kabul and of the many dead and seriously injured, Pope Francis expresses his heartfelt condolences to all affected by this brutal act of violence,” a May 31 telegram signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said.

Pope Francis, he said, “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 letter, addressed to Afghani ambassador to Italy, was sent hours after a suicide bomb exploded in the diplomatic quarter of Kabul, Afghanistan, killing some 80 people and wounding nearly 300 others, according to CNN.

Hidden in a water delivery truck, the bomb exploded near the German Embassy and the Afghan presidential palace in one of the busiest areas in town. A major local cell phone company and a popular TV station, as well as several large shops and supermarkets, were in close vicinity, making the likelihood of a high number of civilian casualties a guarantee. The BBC’s Afghan driver Mohammed Nazir, who spent four years with the broadcaster and had a young family, was among the casualties. According to the BBC, four of their journalists were also injured in the attack, but are expected to live.

According to CNN, the Taliban in a statement denied responsibility for the attack, despite the fact they have been gaining territory in the area. As of now, group has yet claimed responsibility. Wednesday’s bombing took place just four days after 29 Christians were gunned down in buses by militants wearing masks and military uniforms. Claimed by the Islamic State, the attack targeted Christians en route to St. Samuel the Confessor monastery in Minya, Egypt, and was the latest in a string of attacks against Coptic Christians in Egypt.  

A similar attack took place in Kabul in July 1016, when twin explosions went off during a demonstration by members of Afghanistan’s mainly Shi’ite Hazara minority, who had been protesting the planned route of a multi-million-dollar powerline. At least 80 people were killed and 230 people wounded in the explosions, which were claimed by the Islamic State.