Three people have died following an explosion in the green zone of Afghanistan’s capital Kabul, with at least another three others injured.
While no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, it comes as the Taliban increases its offensives against the US backed government across the country.
The US State Department later said the explosion bears the hallmarks of a spate of Taliban offensives, but could not confirm it was the militants who were responsible.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said if the Taliban sought to undermine peace talks in Doha, Qatar, “They
will be an international pariah… and the concern on the part of all of us, one of the main one of many concerns, is that the result will be civil war.”
A security official told Reuters the blast seemed to have come from a car bomb.
They added that two gunmen were still active in the area and fighting Afghan security forces.
A spokesman for the interior ministry said the blast happened in the affluent Sherpur neighbourhood, home to several members of the government, and deep within the “secure” section of the capital known as the green zone.
The spokesman added that it appeared acting Defence Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi was targeted in the attack, although the politician’s party said he was not present when the explosion detonated.
All the roads leading to the minister’s house have been sealed off, and hundreds of people evacuated.
Shortly after the explosion, throngs of people left their homes to start chanting Allahu Akbar (God is great) to show their support for the government and opposition to the Taliban.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, all but one district of the capital of Helmand province have reportedly fallen to the Taliban.
Fighting in Lashkar Gah has intensified, with elite Afghan commandos sent in by the government.
However, the regime’s commander for the province, General Sami Sadat, has told residents: “Please evacuate your families from your homes and their surroundings.
“We will not leave the Taliban alive… I know it’s hard… we do it for your future. Forgive us if you get displaced for few days, please evacuate as soon as possible.”
In Herat, capital of the region with the same name, government forces appeared to push back militants to the outskirts of the city, with the civilian airport able to reopen.
On Monday, the Afghan president. Ashraf Ghani, blamed instability in the region on the withdrawal of western forces this year.
95% of the extraction by the US and NATO has been completed.