A blast near the office of Afghanistan’s primary security agency on Wednesday left three people wounded.
The powerful blast was followed by sporadic gunfire as violence struck Afghanistan’s capital Kabul near the city’s heavily fortified “Green Zone”. The area is home to government buildings and foreign embassies.
A security official said that the first blast – which struck just after 8 pm local time (15:30 GMT) – was caused by a car bomb, and the target was the acting defence minister’s home.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the car bomb and gun attack on the home of acting Defence Minister Bismillah Mohammadi.
He survived the attack on his compound, but the violence was a stark illustration of the worsening security condition. US-led foreign forces are withdrawing, and the insurgents seize swathes of territory.
Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban spokesperson, said his group targeted the minister’s residence as a critical meeting was going on there.
Government forces faced the attackers for more than four hours. The Ministry of Interior announced that at least eight civilians were killed and 20 wounded.
Since April, the Taliban have furthered their campaign to defeat the US-backed government as the foreign troops complete their withdrawal after 20 years of war.
Fighting has been heavy around Herat, Lashkar Gah, near the western border with Iran, and Kandahar in the south.
An Afghan military spokesman said that an emergency had been declared in Lashkar Gah. His forces were getting reinforcements and US air support.
The loss of Lashkar Gah will be seen as a massive blow for the government, which has vowed to defend strategic centres after losing several key rural districts to the Taliban in recent months.
Several families fled their homes in the small city, capital of Helmand province, as Afghan forces launched a counterattack against the Taliban.
The UN reported on Tuesday that about 40 civilians had been killed in Lashkar Gah in the last 24 hours.