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Afghan official: Blast rocks country's capital

A suicide blast rocked Afghanistan's capital city on Saturday during a gun battle with security forces, Afghan officials said, a day after hopes for all-encompassing peace talks collapsed.

Police chief Gen. Sayed Mohammad Roshandil said that the bomber blew himself up outside the telecommunications ministry, clearing the way for the other attackers to enter the building and the heavily guarded government compound in central Kabul.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Both Taliban insurgents and the Islamic State group are active in eastern Afghanistan and have previously claimed attacks in Kabul.

Staff of the Telecommunication Ministry are escorted after an attack outside the ministry building in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, April 20, 2019. Afghan officials say an explosion has rocked the telecommunications ministry in the capital city of Kabul. Nasart Rahimi, a spokesman for the interior ministry, said Saturday the blast occurred during a shootout with security forces. (AP PhotoRahmat Gul)

The attack comes a day after Afghan-to-Afghan peace talks in Qatar were cancelled. It would have marked the first time that Taliban and Kabul government officials sat together to negotiate an end to the war in Afghanistan and a withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Nasart Rahimi, a spokesman for the interior ministry, said security forces were locked in an ongoing siege. He added that they had shot and killed two further suicide bombers, before the attackers could reach their target of the nearby central post office.

"The area is surrounded by the Afghan security forces and a gun battle is going on with unknown number of attackers," Rahimi said.

Wahidullah Mayar, spokesman for the public health ministry, said that so far six wounded people have been evacuated to hospitals. There are three women among the wounded, he added.

Live footage from local TV shows government employees fleeing the neighboring information and culture ministry buildings, with some climbing out through the windows.

Security forces have blocked all roads accessing the site.