A suicide bomber blew himself up inside the Afghan Ministry of Information and Culture in Kabul today, killing at least three people and badly damaging part of the building, officials and witnesses said. The Taliban claimed responsibility.
The bomber shot two policemen outside the ministry building before entering the large hall inside where he blew himself up, said Abdul Jabar, a security guard near the building.
At least three people were killed in the attack, said Ali Shah Ahmadzai, Kabul's deputy police chief. Another 12 people were wounded in the explosion, said Abdul Fahim, the spokesman for the health ministry, which supervises the hospitals where the injured were taken.
The Taliban gave a different version of events. Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said three militants stormed the building by throwing hand grenades at the guards at the main gate.
A man named Naqibullah from the eastern Khost province carried out the suicide attack, Mujahid said. The other two men fled, he said.
One of the side walls of the building collapsed, while glass littered the roads nearby and office equipment was scattered over the area. The blue metal gates in the ministry entrance were twisted.
A reporter at the scene said the hall inside the ministry, belonging to the press department, was destroyed.
Ministry workers were helped out of the building by security personnel. Ambulances carried the wounded to hospitals.
The ministry building is in the centre of the city, at a busy intersection lined with shops.
While insurgents regularly use suicide attacks against Afghan and foreign forces around the country, they have been rare in Kabul in recent months.
On July 7, a suicide attacker set off explosives outside the gates of the Indian Embassy in Kabul, killing more than 60 people, and wounding 146.