Taliban takes responsibility for Kabul attack

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The attack is an example of increasingly frequent "complex assaults" in which militants create chaos with an initial blast, then storm a sensitive building, which leads to an hours-long gun battle, extending the bloodshed.

Mohammad Farooq, the owner of a nearby restaurant, said the explosion blew out the windows of a private school, wounding several students.

The Taliban claimed the attack, which came as the insurgents were holding their latest round of talks with USA envoy Zalmay Khalilzad in the Gulf state of Qatar, where they have a political office.

Meanwhile, officials in the Ministry of Public Health said the rescue workers have shifted 116 people wounded civilians including 26 children and 5 women to hospitals.

Afghans carry a dead body after a auto bomb blast near a governmental institution in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan, July 1, 2019.

No terrorist group in the country claimed responsibility for the attack.

At least three gunmen entered a building around the defence ministry after the explosives were detonated near the ministry's engineering and logistics department, a government security official said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said the militants detonated the vehicle bomb close to Gulbahar Tower.

Monday's blast sent a huge plume of black smoke over the city.

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A security forces soldier arrives at the site of an explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, July 1, 2019.

The heavily-secured neighbourhood is home to some military and government buildings, including one shared by Afghanistan's intelligence agency and defence ministry, as well as the Afghan Football Federation and the Afghan Cricket Board.

The talks, described by one US official as a "make-or-break moment", have focused on issues ranging from counter-terrorism and withdrawal of foreign troops to an intra-Afghan dialogue and a comprehensive ceasefire.

"We strongly condemn the Taliban's latest brutal attack against fellow [Afghans]", the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said.

About 20,000 foreign troops, majority American, are in Afghanistan as part of a US -led North Atlantic Treaty Organisation mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces.

With the attack still ongoing, the Taliban spokesman in Doha again insisted that the insurgents will not negotiate with Kabul. Some U.S. forces carry out counter-terrorism operations.

The attack comes as the Taliban and the United States hold peace talks in Qatar.

Despite peace talks gaining momentum, fighting between the Taliban and Afghan forces who are backed by the foreign troops, has raged across Afghanistan. The Taliban said their fighters had conducted 52 operations against Afghan forces in which more than 170 people were killed.

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