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Powerful blast hits Kabul near heavily fortified 'Green Zone'

The "Green Zone" in Afghanistan's capital houses government buildings as well as foreign embassies.
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A powerful blast followed by gunfire struck Afghanistan's capital Tuesday evening near the "Green Zone," where government buildings, residences and foreign embassies are housed.

A senior security official told Reuters the blast appeared to have been caused by a car bomb.

The official said the residence of a member of parliament appeared to be the target of the attack.

Image: Smoke rises from a powerful explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Smoke rises from a powerful explosion in Kabul, Afghanistan, on Tuesday.Rahmat Gul / AP

No militant group immediately claimed responsibility.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, however, three Taliban leaders told NBC News the fundamentalist Islamist group was behind the attack.

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The intended target, they said, was the residence of Afghanistan Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi.

The three Taliban leaders said the attack was a response to recent airstrikes on their positions in Afghanistan.

Image: Afghan security personnel work at the site of a powerful explosion in Kabul.
Afghan security personnel work at the site of a powerful explosion in Kabul on Tuesday.Rahmat Gul / AP

The Taliban has yet to issue any official statement on the incident, however.

The city's Emergency Hospital tweeted that it had so far seen six patients wounded in the attack.

It is still unclear whether there have been any fatalities.

The blast comes amid growing clashes between Afghan forces and the Taliban, with the military group taking control over checkpoints and infrastructure projects.

The Taliban have been advancing in Afghanistan in recent weeks following the withdrawal of American and NATO troops.

Recently, the group said it had captured over half of Afghanistan's territory, including border crossings with Iran and Pakistan.