Nearly 200 people were injured in a suicide bombing near the Afghan presidential palace in capital Kabul, an official said.
“Several dead bodies and 198 injured have been taken to hospitals,” health ministry spokesman Aziz Qawosi said.
It is difficult to state the exact number of casualties at the moment, Xinhua news agency quoted the official as saying.
Earlier reports said 20 people were killed in the blast. However, there was no official confirmation of the casualties.
The deadly explosion apparently targeted National Directorate of Security (NDS) a secret service tasked with protecting VIPs, TOLO News reported.
Security forces cordoned off the area as heavy gunfire continued after the explosion. Reports said gunmen managed to breach the security unit’s perimeter.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the incident and termed it as a terrorist attack.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack. The insurgents claimed a suicide attacker blew up his explosive laden vehicle outside the gate of the NDS office. The explosion provided an opportunity for the gunmen to enter the heavily guarded compound, in the neighbourhood of the presidential palace.