Loud explosion, gunfire rock downtown Kabul: officials

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Loud explosion, gunfire rock downtown Kabul: officials
The blast followed several months of relative calm in Kabul [Al Jazeera]
The blast followed several months of relative calm in Kabul [Al Jazeera]

An explosion followed by gunfire hit the centre of the Afghan capital Kabul, close to one of the city’s main hotels and the communications ministry building, officials said.

“Around 11:40 am [07:10GMT], an explosion [was] heard near the communication ministry, and sporadic fires have also been heard in the area,” interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said on Saturday.

Intermittent firing could be heard more than 30 minutes after the blast, and the area had been cordoned off by security forces, the AFP news agency reported.

The communications ministry is located in Kabul’s second police district, one of the busiest spots in the city, about two kilometres from the green zone.

The explosion was also close to the heavily-fortified Serena Hotel, one of the few hotels still used by foreign visitors, in one of the main commercial areas of the city.

There was no immediate word on the cause of the blast or of any casualties. No group has claimed responsibility yet.

The blast followed several months of relative calm in Kabul, which coincided with talks between the United States and Taliban officials aimed at opening the way for formal peace negotiations to end more than 17 years of war in Afghanistan.

While heavy fighting continues across Afghanistan and Taliban fighters have announced their now-customary spring offensive, there have been no large scale attacks on civilian targets in capital Kabul in recent weeks.

SOURCE:
News agencies

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