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Taliban claimed responsibility for an explosion that killed at least 28 people and injured more than 300 others in central Kabul on Tuesday, according to Afghan media. Several major Afghan security agencies are based in the area, including the US Embassy and the National Directorate of Security. The Ministry of Defence and the presidential palace are also within a few hundred metres. A heavy firefight ensued the blast in the densely-packed neighbourhood.

This blast comes a week after the Taliban announced the commencement of their annual spring offensive. The presidential palace condemned the attack “in the strongest possible terms”.

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“The first blast was carried out by a suicide bomber in a car and possibly one or two bombers are still resisting,” interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said.“The scene of the attack has been completely cordoned off by Afghan security forces.” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed their fighters had managed to enter the office of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), the main Afghan spy agency.The Taliban-led insurgency has gained strength since the withdrawal of international forces from combat at the end of 2014 and the Taliban are stronger than at any point since they were driven from power by US-backed forces in 2001.

The US embassy said it was not affected by the blast. The NATO-led force also said it was unaffected.

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