Kabul attack: Gunmen storm government ministry as blast hits Afghan capital

Zamira Rahim
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Kabul attack: Gunmen storm government ministry as blast hits Afghan capital

At least seven people were killed during an attack on Afghanistan’s Ministry of Communications on Saturday.

An explosion hit the centre of Kabul as attackers tried to storm the multi-storey building which houses the government department.

The blast was from a suicide bomb, which was detonated at the building’s entrance, shortly after midday.

Television images showed people fleeing after gunfire and explosions were heard near the 18-storey tower.

Four civilians and three police officers were among the dead, a government official said.

Another eight civilians were wounded.

“I saw three attackers going into the ministry,” Ahmad Zaki, a Ministry of Communications employee, said.

“One of them detonated his explosives and two are fighting security forces.”

The busy commercial area around the building was sealed off, as security forces battled in a gunfight with at least three attackers, an Interior Ministry spokesperson said.

A witness claimed attackers were fighting security forces on the first floor of the ministry headquarters, according to Tolo News. At least two of the gunmen were shot dead.

“We saw a gunman trying to break open an office door and as we were running out, he was trying to shoot us and he started shouting ‘I will kill everyone here’,” said Syeda Rashid, an office administrator in the ministry who escaped with several of her colleagues.

More than 2,800 government employees were evacuated by security forces during the violence.

By early afternoon there was no sound of gunfire but it remained unclear if the attack was over.

No militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack and the Taliban has released a statement denying responsibility.

The attack follows a period of relative calm in Afghanistan’s capital, which coincided with talks between the US and the Taliban, aimed at opening formal peace negotiations to end more than 17 years of war.

A planned meeting between Taliban officials and Afghan politicians and civil society representatives in Qatar was cancelled a day before the attack.

It would have marked the first time that Taliban and Kabul government officials sat together to negotiate an end to the war in Afghanistan and a withdrawal of US troops.

Additional reporting by agencies