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Blasts, gunfire near Iraqi embassy in Kabul, IS claims responsibility

A suicide bomber blew himself up outside the Iraqi embassy in Kabul on Monday and militants breached the compound, Afghan officials said, in an unfolding attack claimed by the Islamic State (IS).

Three of the attackers were still loose in the compound, but all embassy staff had been swiftly evacuated as security forces rushed to the scene, Afghanistan’s interior ministry said in a statement.

Black smoke billowed into the air above the neighbourhood in northwestern Kabul as the sound of ambulance sirens could be heard. The interior ministry confirmed that at least four militants had attacked the Iraqi embassy, saying that a suicide bomber had detonated his vest at the compound entrance. “Police reacted quickly and the embassy staff are shifted to a safe location. The operation to kill all terrorists is ongoing,” the statement continued.

There was no immediate information about casualties.

Two members of “the Islamic State attack the Iraqi embassy building in the Afghan city of Kabul”, said the jihadist group’s propaganda agency Amaq without providing further details.

The embassy is located in northwestern Kabul, in a neighbourhood that is home to several hotels and banks as well as large supermarkets and several police compounds. “I heard a big blast followed by several explosions and small gunfire,” said Ahmad Ali, a nearby shopkeeper. “People were worried and closed their shops to run for safety. The roads are still blocked by security forces.”

The attack is the latest to rock Kabul, which is regularly devastated by bomb blasts and militant assaults, often killing many civilians. The resurgent Taliban claim many of the attacks as they step up their bid to drive out foreign forces with a series of assaults across the country. But the Islamic State group, recently ousted from the Iraqi city of Mosul, have been expanding their footprint in eastern Afghanistan and have claimed responsibility for several devastating attacks in Kabul.

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