Auto bomb blast targets foreign aid group in Kabul

Afghanistan: Explosion and gunfire rock Kabul's Shahr-e-Naw area

The attack targeted an global aid group called Counterpart worldwide, which has offices near those of the Afghan attorney general, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi.

It was not immediately clear if any foreigners were among the casualties. Authorities cordoned off the site, dispatching ambulances and police trucks.

Militants are believed to have set off a suicide vehicle bomb before entering the offices of Counterpoint International, resulting in a stand-off with Afghan security forces.

The Taliban said it was behind the attack.

"I was in my shop when I heard a huge explosion that shattered all the windows and damaged everything", witness Amanullah Rahim said.

Health officials said at least 15 people were wounded in the attack and transferred to the nearby Emergency Hospital.

The Taliban* claimed responsibility for the attack and, according to media reports, stated that the non-governmental organisation was part of a U.S. network "involved in harmful Western activities".

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The attack comes amid the sixth round of talks between the U.S. and the Taliban in Qatar, which aim to bring an end to the 18 year war. Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid called the group a US network involved in "harmful Western activities" in Afghanistan.

Last week, the Taliban turned down a ceasefire agreement proposed by President Ashraf Ghani and Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special envoy for peace in the country.

Johan Bass, U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan, strongly condemned the attack on the NGO.

The Taliban said they would continue their attacks during Ramadan, but would be "very careful of civilians during any operation".

Taliban spokesperson Mujahid said the aid group worked closely with government departments promoting women, an effort opposed by the hard-line Islamist group.

The explosion comes as the USA and Taliban representatives continue negotiations in Qatar aimed at bringing an end to the Afghan conflict.

Just over two weeks ago, gunmen targeted the Communications Ministry in Kabul, killing at least seven people in an attack claimed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

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