A large explosion in the center of Kabul Friday afternoon has been followed by gunfire as Afghan police and other security forces fought a gun battle with several of the attackers.
Afghanistan's capital was targeted by a blast at around 4 p.m. in the downtown district of Borj-e Sharahah, near the country's National Directorate of Security intelligence agency hospital, according to the state intelligence service.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing on the central Kabul district, which also houses several international aid office buildings, the Associated Press reported.
"A group of other mujahideen armed with heavy and light weapons then took position in a building and are firing on several targets including a building in which the foreigners and members of a spy agency stay," Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told Agence France-Presse.
Police had cordoned off the area, and reported that two of the insurgents had been killed. The building taken over by the Taliban has been safely evacuated, with two civilian injuries and two security force members injured, according to the AP.
United Nations and international agency workers also sought protection in bomb shelters.
The district is the location of Afghanistan's Interior Ministry and the national intelligence police headquarters, although it remains unclear what the exact target of the attack was.
There are conflicting reports that the Taliban was attacking the International Organization of Migration, the hospital, and nearby hotel the Park Palace, according to the New York Times.
"We are dealing with a well coordinated attack," said Kabul police chief Gen. Ayub Salangi. "Afghan forces will deal with them."
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