Nearly 90 people were killed and more than 40 others wounded in a powerful explosion in the Orgun district of southeastern Paktika province on Tuesday, officials said.
Malim Raza Kharotai, the district's administrative chief, told Pajhwok Afghan News the massive blast occurred when the attacker drove his explosives-laden vehicle into a crowded district market.
He said a large number of people were doing shopping at the time of the explosion, which damaged a number of shops. Most of the dead were shopkeepers and civilians, he added.
In Kabul, Defence Ministry spokesman Gen. Zahir Azimi said in a statement the Afghan troops had recovered 89 bodies from the rubble. "Our soldiers are still trying to recover bodies. Almost all of the shops have fallen."
The district chief feared the causalities could surge because many of the wounded were struggling for life. Sources in the civil hospital said that 70 injured people had been brought to the medical facility.
Most of the 89 bodies recovered from the rubble were women and children, according to Gen. Azimi, who said Afghan soldiers were busy looking for survivors. He added 42 injured people had been evacuated to hospital.
President Hamid Karzai, meanwhile, directed the authorities concerned to provide immediate assistance to the victims' relatives and the best possible medical care to the injured.
He denounced the killing of innocent civilians as an unpardonable act, saying the perpetrators could achieve nothing but the wrath of Allah and the Afghan people.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the deadly bombing in the district that lies near Pakistan’s restive tribal region of Waziristan -- currently the scene of a full-scale military offensive.
The Taliban, who are often blamed for such bombings, distanced themselves from the attack. The group's spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said they were looking into the incident.