At least three suspected Taliban gunmen have launched an attack on a hotel used by foreign contractors in Kabul, killing at least one police officer and wounding four others.
Police said the attack on the Northgate Hotel secure compound began with a truck bomb at the gate, with the explosion heard across the city at around 1.30am local time on Monday (9pm GMT Sunday).
One of the attackers was killed in that blast, after which two others entered the compound. They were killed in a shootout with police.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack which, despite the size of the initial blast, appeared to have caused limited casualties.
As day broke, gunfire and occasional explosions rang out over the industrial zone where security forces had taken up positions near the Northgate, a secure residential compound for foreign military and civilian organisations.
The Taliban said the hotel was a "place of vulgarity and profanity", and it comes as the latest in a series against foreign targets in Kabul, underlining precarious security in Afghanistan, even in the capital.
It came around a week after the Isis militant group claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a demonstration by members of the mainly Shia Hazara minority, killing at least 80 people.
The Taliban, who say that foreign "invaders" must leave Afghanistan but also claim they want to avoid civilian casualties, said the Northgate compound was not near other homes and that ordinary people were not harmed.
Security officials originally said four attackers were at the site, a walled compound of a type typically used by foreign security and civilian organizations in Kabul, even though police later said that only three attackers had been killed.
The Taliban claimed there were "dozens of dead and wounded". The Islamist group often exaggerates the extent of attacks it launches against Afghan government and foreign security targets.
After the attack, Afghan security forces closed off streets around the site, which is east of Kabul's main international airport and on the way to the sprawling Bagram air base north of the capital.
Columns of vehicles carrying troops and police were in the area and heavy automatic gunfire could be heard, along with rocket-propelled grenades fired by Afghan security forces.
There were also widespread reports of power outages in Kabul after the blast, with electricity cut off in several areas of the city.
The attack followed the bombing of a busload of Nepalese security contractors who worked for the Canadian embassy in June, as well as other attacks on foreigners in Kabul, including a suicide attack on Camp Baron, a camp used by foreign contractors in January.
Additional reporting by agencies
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