Dozens were killed in a suicide bombing outside the Kabul Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Police said at least five civilians were killed, but another Taliban official said the number was up to 20.
A local branch of the Islamic State group known as ISIS–K claimed to have carried out the attack.
It comes after recent explosions aimed at foreign interests. Several countries, including Turkey and China, have embassies in the region. The attack occurred around 4:00 pm.
According to the Taliban, the bombers tried unsuccessfully to enter the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building.
“I saw a man blow himself up,” said driver Jamshed Karimi, who was waiting outside the ministry. Karimi told AFP he saw a man walking by with a bag and a rifle slung over his shoulder. “He drove past my car and seconds later there was a loud bang.”
No major damage was seen on the building itself. The nearby Interior Ministry windows were also shattered in the explosion. But the Emergency NGO in Kabul, an Italian humanitarian agency, said it had received more than 40 injured and said the death toll was rising.
Kabul police said the attack was cowardly, adding that the perpetrators would be held accountable.
In a Telegram post, Isis-K said at least 20 people were killed in the blast. Also among the dead were “several ‘diplomatic’ officers”, but this could not be independently confirmed.
Afghan journalist Aisha Ahmad later tweeted that her uncle, a senior diplomat, had died in the explosion. “Words cannot express my grief,” she said.
Earlier reports said the Chinese delegation was scheduled to meet with Afghan officials at the Foreign Ministry building at the time of the attack. But a senior official at the prime minister’s office told AFP there were no foreigners.
When asked about the attack, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said China condemned it “strongly” and expressed hope that the Afghan government would be able to protect citizens of all countries, including Chinese.
A series of attacks have targeted foreigners or foreign interest groups in recent months as the Taliban seek to attract investment from neighbouring countries. Afghanistan has been rocked by dozens of explosions, claimed mainly by Isis-K since the Taliban took power last year.
Correspondents say that in such incidents, the Taliban tend to downplay the number of victims.
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