Loud gunfire could be heard in Kabul early Tuesday as fighting between militants and Afghan security forces continued after a day in which at least 24 people died in a series of bomb attacks.
Militants had taken hostages, thought to be all Afghan citizens, in a hotel in the centre of the capital where the militants holed themselves up after a suicide attack outside the building late Monday night, a security source said.
Two attackers had been killed and one was still alive, he added. No information on other possible casualties was immediately available.
The fighting started nearly eight hours earlier when the suicide attack was followed by gunfire, said Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.
The suicide bomber attacked shortly after 11 pm (1900 GMT) in a busy shopping area, where shops were open till late ahead of the Eid holidays.
The bombing's target could have been a guesthouse housing mostly Indian nationals, security sources said.
The attack came after twin bombings earlier on Monday evening killed at least 24 people, including six Afghan security force members, near the Presidential Administrative Office in Kabul.
"At least 91 others were wounded," said Wahidullah Majroh, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Health, adding that some were in critical condition.
Security forces rushed to the scene of the first attack whice came as office workers were returning home for the day. This was followed by another blast when a suicide bomber blew himself up among the crowd that had gathered to assist the injured.
Among those killed was General Abdul Raziq, a senior Afghan army official and the chief of police for district two of Kabul city.
"General Raziq succumbed to his wounds in a hospital," said General Mohammad Radmanish, a spokesman for the Afghan Ministry of Defence.
"He was assisting with the wounded from the initial blast when the second suicide bombing occurred," Radmanish added.
The incident occurred in one of the most crowded areas of the capital where the Presidential Administrative Office, Ministry of Defence and district police headquarters are located, all within close proximity.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the earlier attack, adding that it had killed tens of soldiers and officers in its recent efforts to damage the security elite in Kabul.
President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attack in a statement saying "terrorist groups attempt to reach their ominous goals by spreading fear."
Sixteen people were killed last month and 39 others were injured in another Taliban attack on the American University of Afghanistan.
In April, 64 people were killed and more than 300 others were wounded after the Taliban attacked an organization providing security for the Afghan elite.
By Mohammad Jawad and Hakim Mukhtar
© 2020 dpa GmbH