"The [Indian] embassy building, which was the main target of the attack, was destroyed in the powerful blast," says a statement posted on the Taliban's website

The Taliban said that the Indian embassy in downtown Kabul was the main target of the suicide attack on Thursday that Afghan officials said killed 12 people and injured 84 others.

In a statement posted on the insurgent’s website, the Taliban said 35 people, including senior Indian embassy officials, Afghan and foreign soldiers, were killed when one of their bombers, identified only as Khalid, targeted the embassy.

“The embassy building, which was the main target of the attack, was destroyed in the powerful blast,” the statement said, adding the Interior Ministry and the passport department buildings were also damaged.

The Afghan Interior Ministry said the attack during Thursday’s rush-hour killed 11 civilians and one police officer, while 76 civilians and eight policemen guarding the highly fortified embassy were injured.

Zemarai Bashary, an Interior Ministry spokesman, confirmed that the attack was carried out by a suicide car bomber.

Police officers at the scene of the bombing also said the explosion was caused by a suicide car bombing, pointing to parts of a mangled vehicle as evidence.

A source from the embassy, which is located near the Interior Ministry, said there were no deaths among Indian nationals but a wall surrounding the embassy compound had been destroyed and embassy windows shattered.

Indian Foreign Secretary, Nirupama Rao, said in New Delhi that the attack was directed at the Indian mission but all its personnel and staff were safe. She said three members of the Indo-Tibetan border police force that guards the mission were injured.

India’s top Foreign Ministry official said the intensity of the blast was similar to an attack in July 2008 on the Kabul embassy. It killed more than 50 people, including two Indian diplomats.

She said stringent security measures taken since then had prevented greater damage from occurring Thursday.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the blast and his office said in a statement that the president deemed the attack “a terrorist act against our innocent people.” Sayed Kabir Amiri, an official at the Public Health Ministry, had said earlier that the bodies of at least four people and 67 injured civilians were taken to Kabul hospitals.

Kabul has seen a series of suicide attacks in the past two months.

At least three suicide bombers have been unleashed by Taliban militants on NATO-led forces in the city since August, but most of the victims were Afghan civilians.

In an attack last month, six Italian soldiers and 10 Afghan civilians were killed when a suicide bomber targeted an Italian military convoy on the road to Kabul airport.

Footage from Tolo, a private television channel, showed that two armoured vehicles, with one of them with a UN number plate, were damaged in the attack, but it was not known if any of the occupants were hurt. Several shops in a recently built market nearby also were shaken by the blast.