Kabul (AFP) – Suicide bombers and gunmen launched apparent coordinated attacks on two Kabul police stations on Wednesday, with officials saying at least one of the assaults is ongoing.
AFP journalists heard a series of loud explosions in the heart of the Afghan capital followed by volleys of gunfire that were confirmed by Afghan officials and witnesses.
In the first attack a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a police station in the west of the city, sparking an intense gunfight between other militants and officers, interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish told AFP.
Ariana TV footage showed a thick plume of black smoke rising into the sky while a photo posted on Twitter purportedly of the west Kabul police station showed a building on fire.
The second attack took place in front of a police station in Shar-e-Naw neighbourhood in central Kabul, Danish said.
“Two attackers who tried to enter the police compound were shot dead,” the spokesman added.
The attack on the first police station has ended while the operation at the second is ongoing, Danish said.
An AFP correspondent near the scene of the second attack saw a body on the street by the police station and heard several gunshots. He also saw several terrified women running away from the scene.
A travel agency that handles Indian visa applications is located on the same street as the Shar-e-Naw police station. The Indian embassy and some of its consulates in Afghanistan have previously been targeted by the Taliban.
Health ministry spokesman Waheed Majroh said six civilians wounded in the explosions had been brought to hospitals. He had no further details on casualties.
– Increased attacks –
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks that come just over a week after twin blasts in Kabul killed 25 people, including AFP chief photographer Shah Marai and eight other journalists.
Those attacks were claimed by the Islamic State group.
The Taliban recently launched their annual spring offensive, in an apparent rejection of a peace talks overture by the Afghan government.
Their Operation Al Khandaq will target US forces and “their intelligence agents” as well as their “internal supporters”, a Taliban statement said on April 25.
After an easing of violence in Kabul in February and March, Taliban and IS militants have stepped up attacks in the city in recent weeks.
Kabul has long been one of the deadliest places in Afghanistan for civilians.
A suicide bomber targeting a blood drive for victims of recent attacks blew himself up in a city park on Monday after being spotted by police, causing no other casualties.
On April 22, a suicide bomber detonated himself outside a voter registration centre in the city, killing 60 people and wounding more than 100.
That was among a series of attacks across the country in places where people were signing up to vote.
The Taliban and IS have made clear their intentions to disrupt the parliamentary and district council elections scheduled for October 20.
General John Nicholson, who leads US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said previously that protecting Kabul was a priority for foreign troops.
But he acknowledged that preventing attacks would be challenging in the sprawling city that is poorly mapped and extremely porous.