Ministry building under attack in Kabul

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The Ministry of Interior has confirmed that the attack on the ministry of telecommunications and information technology ended later today after all four assailants were shot dead by security forces. Many such attacks have been claimed by the radical Islamic State group.

"Operations finished. All suicide bombers killed & more than 2000 civilians staff rescued", the ministry said on Twitter. Then gunfire which could be heard over a mile away broke out. They were all eventually rescued by commandos.

Afghan authorities gave conflicting reports during the incident.

The attack began when a suicide bomber detonated explosives just outside the communications ministry, Mojahid said.

General Sayed Mohammad Roshan Dil, the Kabul police chief, said four attackers had been wearing police uniforms and had targeted a shrine near the ministry.

Local television footage showed a small plume of smoke near the ministry, and people climbing out the windows on a lower level.

Afghan president Ashraf Ghani strongly condemned the attack in a statement, saying the enemies of Afghanistan, by targeting civil servants, are trying to create terror among the people.

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Kabul Police Chief Sayed Mohammad Roshandil says the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, which is under attack by militants, has been nearly evacuated.

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. One of the attackers was killed, he told Tolo.

While heavy fighting has carried on across Afghanistan and Taliban militants have announced their now customary spring offensive, it had been months since the last major attack on civilian targets in the capital.

It illustrates the sprawling nature of Afghanistan's conflict, and the obstacles to peace even if a deal is reached with the Taliban.

Talks between the Taliban and 250 Afghan politicians fell apart in recent days due to disagreements about how many delegates were supposed to come to the planned meeting in Qatar.

The collapse comes at a critical time and amid continued bloodshed in Afghanistan, where the Taliban now control or influence about half of Afghanistan and 3,804 civilians were killed there previous year, according to a United Nations tally.

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