taliban afganistan.jpg
Photograph: EPA/WATAN YAR

The Taliban claimed responsibility for a deadly bombing early Tuesday morning in Kabul, which apparently targeted the country's intelligence services.

"At least 15 NDS personnel have been killed," said an official of the National Directorate of Security (NDS), speaking anonymously.

At least 161 people were injured, said Ismail Kawusi, a Ministry of Health advisor and spokesman.

"Casualty numbers may be high because the area was crowded at that time of the morning," said Sediq Sediqi, a spokesperson for the Afghan Ministry of Interior.

The bombing appeared to target the 10th directorate, a compound that houses the VIP protection unit of the NDS, which provides security for high-ranking Afghan officials in the capital.

Gunfire also reportedly broke out after the explosion.

The Taliban announced the start of their spring offensive last week before launching coordinated attacks in several provinces. Tuesday's bombing was the first in the capital since the announcement.

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