Multiple explosions and bursts of gunfire were heard near the German, British and US embassies in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Sunday in what appeared to be a coordinated attack.
Smoke billowed from the direction of the German embassy, while explosions from rocket-propelled grenades slammed into nearby buildings in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood of Kabul, the diplomatic quarter of the Afghan capital.
Gunfire appeared to be coming from various directions in the barricaded and closely guarded area of the city, close to the US and British embassies, as well as the Turkish and Iranian missions, witnesses said, adding that alarm sirens had gone off.
Afghan security forces were reportedly scrambling to reinforce the so-called 'green zone.' Some people in the area said they had heard at least a dozen explosions.
A newly-built hotel, the Kabul Star, was said to be on fire in an area, which also includes the Afghan presidential palace and the United Nations office. According to unverified accounts, due to the chaotic situation, witnesses have reportedly said that suicide bombers have taken over the hotel, from which they launched their rockets and gunfire in several directions.
The German news agency, dpa, quoting an Afghan interior ministry spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, said two separate incidents were ongoing in the capital.
"Armed insurgents are launching attacks in two areas of Kabul, but we have surrounded the area and deployed a heavy number of security forces in the area to contain the gunfight," Sediqqi said.
The local Tolonews television channel reported that there was another attack near the Afghan parliament, west of Kabul.
Taliban militants claimed responsibility for the attacks and said that simultaneously others were taking place in Paktia and Logar provinces as well.