Two explosions rocked Kabul on Tuesday, injuring several people in an attack on a military hospital, Taliban officials and a doctor said, as a witness also reported shooting.
The blasts were the latest in a series of attacks in the weeks since the Taliban took power in August, following a two-decade insurgency against the US-backed government.
The hardline Islamist group’s struggle to bring stability to Afghanistan has been dogged by a series of bloody attacks by the local chapter of the Islamic State group.
Tuesday’s attack has yet to be reported by any group.
“I am inside the hospital. I heard a big explosion coming from the first checkpoint. They told us to go to safe rooms. I also heard gunshots,” a doctor at the Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan hospital in Kabul told AFP.
“I can still hear gunshots inside the hospital building. I think the attackers are going from room to room … like the first time she 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 spokesman for the Taliban media confirmed both blasts.
“An explosion has occurred at the door of the military hospital and a second one somewhere near the hospital, this is our initial information, we will give more details later,” he told AFP.
Qari Saeed Khosty, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said that Taliban special forces had rushed to the scene to secure the area.
“The explosion has caused casualties, details will be shared later,” he said.
Ambulances speeding through Kabul
An Italian NGO that runs a separate hospital in the capital tweeted that it has received nine injured patients at the scene of the blast in the capital’s 10th police district.
Images shared on social media showed black smoke in the air after the explosions, the first of which occurred around 1:00 pm (0830 GMT).
Although both the IS and the Taliban are hardline Sunni Islamist militants, they have differed on the minutiae of religion and strategy.
The Islamic State has claimed four mass casualty attacks since the Taliban took power.
AFP journalists saw Taliban fighters rushing towards 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, were closed to traffic and the Taliban guards intensified searches.
Sirens were heard in the streets and ambulances were seen running towards the scene of the explosion.
The Taliban, who have yet to be recognized by any foreign power, face multiple challenges in their transition from militant group to ruling power, including a worsening humanitarian crisis and major economic disruption.