Two explosions rocked Kabul on Tuesday, injuring several people in an attack on a military hospital, Taliban officials and a doctor said, with a witness also reporting gunfire.
The explosions were the latest in a series of attacks in the weeks after the Taliban took power in August, following a two-decade insurgency against the US-backed government.
The hard-line Islamist group’s struggle to bring stability to Afghanistan has been hampered by a series of bloody assaults by the local branch of the Islamic State group.
Tuesday’s attack has yet to be claimed by any group.
“I am inside the hospital. I heard a big explosion coming from the first checkpoint. We were told to go to safe rooms. I also hear gunshots,” said to AFP a doctor from the Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan hospital in Kabul.
“I still hear gunshots inside the hospital building. I think the attackers are going from room to room … like the first time he was attacked,” added the doctor.
The hospital was previously attacked in 2017, when gunmen disguised as medical personnel killed at least 30 people.
AFP journalists heard a second explosion in the city, as well as the sound of gunfire.
A Taliban media spokesperson confirmed the two explosions.
“An explosion occurred at the door of the military hospital and a second somewhere near the hospital, this is our first information, we will provide more details later,” he told the AFP.
Interior Ministry spokesman Qari Saeed Khosty said Taliban special forces rushed to the scene to secure the area.
“The explosion claimed victims, details will be shared later,” he said.
Ambulances speed through Kabul
An Italian NGO that runs a separate hospital in the capital tweeted that it had received nine injured patients at the site of the blast in the capital’s 10th Police District.
Images shared on social media showed black smoke rising into the air after the explosions, the first of which went off around 1:00 p.m. (08:30 GMT).
Although ISIS and the Taliban are both extremist Sunni Islamist militants, they differ on the details of religion and strategy.
IS has claimed responsibility for four massive attacks since the Taliban took control.
AFP journalists saw Taliban fighters rushing to the scene in two armored personnel carriers (APCs) and pickup trucks.
Roads near the heavily fortified “green zone” where the buildings of several former Western embassies are located have been closed to traffic and Taliban guards have stepped up searches.
Sirens were heard in the streets and ambulances were seen rushing towards the site of the explosion.
The Taliban, who have yet to be recognized by any foreign power, face multiple challenges as they transition from a militant group to government power, including a worsening humanitarian crisis and major economic disruption.