Multiple explosions and a gunfight in the Afghan capital’s heavily secured Green Zone killed at least eight and wounded 23.
Powerful explosions rocked Afghanistan's capital Kabul in an attack that apparently targeted the country's acting defence minister and government buildings.
The explosions left at least eight dead, including three attackers, and at least 23 people were wounded, a health official said on Wednesday.
Several smaller explosions could be heard as well as small arms fire.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks and warned of more attacks on government officials.
It comes as the insurgents press on with a campaign to capture major cities across Afghanistan, after gaining control of much of the rural parts in recent months.
Interior Ministry spokesman Mirwais Stanekzai said the first blast injured at least 20 people in the upscale Sherpur neighbourhood, which is in a deeply secure section of the capital known as the green zone.
It is home to several senior government officials.
Just hours later on Wednesday morning, roadside bombs targeted multiple government buildings, including National Directorate of Security, Defence Ministry and Ministry of Martyrs and Disabled.
At least two civilians and a security official were injured, police said.
No group has claimed responsibility.
READ MORE: Afghan officials: Kabul attack repelled with killing of all gunmen
The aftermath of yesterday’s blast in Kabul that took place outside the residence of Acting Afghan Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi, which shook the city last night. #Afghanistan pic.twitter.com/x6HP1o1DyQ— Anas Mallick (@AnasMallick) August 4, 2021
Stanekzai said it appeared the guesthouse of acting Defence Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi was targeted.
His Jamiat-e-Islami party was told the minister was not in the guesthouse and his family had been safely evacuated.
A party leader and former vice president, Younus Qanooni, reassured the party in a message shared on social media that the minister and his family were safe.
The Defence Ministry released a video in which Mohammadi says that his guards had been wounded in a suicide attack. "I assure my beloved countrymen that such attacks cannot have any impact on my willingness to defend my countrymen and my country,” he says.
Details of the attack were sketchy even as it ended, but gunmen appeared to have entered the area after the explosion. Stanekzai said all four attackers were eventually killed by security personnel and a cleanup operation was conducted by police. All roads leading to the minister's house and guesthouse were closed, he said.
الله اکبر— سعيد غزنوي (@AlM5ecm0fntFiB6) August 3, 2021
ويل کيږي د کابل برید د دفاع وزیر بسم الله خان محمدي په پر میلمستون شوی
جګړه دوام لري. pic.twitter.com/dzK8Z0n6mF
Hundreds of residents in the area were moved to safety, said Ferdaws Faramarz, spokesman for the Kabul police chief. He said security personnel had also carried out house-to-house searches.
The wounded were taken to hospitals in the capital, said Health Ministry spokesman Dastgir Nazari.
#Afghans in the capital city #Kabul chant God is Great in celebration of defiant resistance to the #Taliban's urban incursions. https://t.co/oDQdD39ipv— Jane Ferguson (@JaneFerguson5) August 3, 2021
US condemns attack
The US State Department condemned the bombing.
“I’m not in a position to attribute it officially just yet, but, of course, it does bear all the hallmarks of the spate of Taliban attacks that we have seen in recent weeks," spokesman Ned Price said in Washington.
"We unequivocally condemn the bombing and we continue to stand by our Afghan partners. I think the broader point in all of this is that there is broad international consensus that there is no military solution to the conflict and that is why we’re looking at ways and means by which we can help it celebrate the peace negotiations that are ongoing.”
The escalation of fighting in Afghanistan comes as most US and NATO troops have now withdrawn from the country.
US President Joe Biden announced in mid-April he would end Afghanistan’s “forever war”, 20 years after US-led forces invaded the country in the wake of 9/11, with the stated aim to prevent it from becoming a base for further terror attacks.
READ MORE: Afghan army urges civilians to leave Lashkar Gah ahead of Taliban operation