The start of Afghanistan's election season was marred by deadly violence, just hours after President Ashraf Ghani insisted "peace is coming" to the war-torn nation.

Ambulances bring wounded civilians to the Wazir Akbar Khan hospital following an attack in Kabul on July 28, 2019.
Ambulances bring wounded civilians to the Wazir Akbar Khan hospital following an attack in Kabul on July 28, 2019. (AFP)

An Afghan official says at least 20 people were killed during a complex attack on Sunday against the office of the president's running mate.

Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said Monday around 50 other people were wounded in the attack against the Green Trend office in the capital Kabul.

Several gunmen were holed up inside the building for six hours before being killed by security forces, said Rahimi.

The attackers' potential target, vice-presidential candidate and former intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh, was "evacuated from the building and moved to a safe location," Rahimi said. Some 85 civilians were rescued from inside.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but both Taliban insurgents and Daesh are active in the capital and have carried out attacks there in the past.

President Ghani is seeking a second term on promises of ending the 18-year war but has been largely sidelined over the past year as the US has negotiated directly with the Taliban, who view the Kabul government as an American puppet.

The Taliban effectively control around half the country and have continued to carry out daily attacks on Afghan security forces.

TRT World spoke to Kabul-based Bilal Sarwary for more on the attack. 

Ghazni attack

Elsewhere, a Taliban suicide bomber killed four police officers early on Sunday in an attack on a police station in the eastern Ghazni province, according to Ahmad Khan Serat, a spokesman for the provincial police.

US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who is currently visiting Kabul, has held several rounds of talks with the Taliban in recent months in a bid to end America's longest war. 

The two sides appear to be closing in on an agreement in which the US would withdraw its forces in return for a pledge from the Taliban to keep the country from being used as a launchpad for global attacks.

The Taliban and Daesh's affiliate in Afghanistan are sharply divided over ideology and tactics, with the Taliban largely confining their attacks to government targets and Afghan and international security forces.

The Taliban and Daesh have fought each other on a number of occasions, and the Taliban are still the larger and more imposing force.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies