Kabul attack leaves eight dead

An explosion has rocked a part of Kabul where several senior government officials live.
An explosion has rocked a part of Kabul where several senior government officials live.

An attack in an upmarket neighbourhood of Afghanistan's capital that targeted the country's acting defence minister has left at least eight people dead and 20 wounded, authorities say.

A powerful explosion followed by a gun battle between Afghan security forces and insurgents took place on Tuesday night, said Interior Ministry spokesperson Mirwais Stanekzai.

He said the casualty toll could rise.

It appeared that the guesthouse of acting defence minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi was targeted, Stanekzai said, but Mohammadi was not hurt.

Mohammadi's Jamiat-e-Islami party was told the minister was not in the guesthouse and his family had been safely evacuated.

All four attackers were shot and killed after five hours of fighting, Stanekzai said.

No one immediately claimed the attack, but it came as Taliban insurgents press ahead with an offensive that is putting pressure on the provincial capitals in the south and west of the country.

The so-called Islamic State group has claimed some recent attacks in Kabul but most have gone unclaimed, with the government and the Taliban blaming each other.

Stanekzai said the blast happened in the Sherpur neighbourhood, in the section of the capital known as the green zone, where security is tight. It is home to several senior government officials.

Hours after Tuesday night's attack, the Defence Ministry released a video in which Mohammadi said 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 said.

Hundreds of residents in the area were moved to safety as security personnel carried out house-to-house searches, officials said.

Australian Associated Press