At least five people were killed when Taliban fighters attacked the offices of a US-based aid organisation in the Afghan capital, the Interior Ministry has said.
The attackers set off a huge explosion and battled security forces in an assault lasting more than six hours, it was reported.
The ministry’s statement said four civilians and a police officer were killed and 24 others were wounded in the assault.
The attack ended after all five insurgents were killed by Afghan forces, the statement said.
“Around 200 people were rescued from both buildings within the compound,” it added.
The attack targeted the US-based aid organisation Counterpart International, which has offices near those of the Afghan attorney general, Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said.
The group’s offices are in a compound with two five-story buildings.
“We are incredibly saddened by this attack and are working as quickly as possible to account for our staff,” the organisation said in a statement on its website.
“Their safety and security is our primary concern.”
Johan Bass, US ambassador in Afghanistan, strongly condemned the attack on the NGO.
He said the targeted organisation helped local communities, trained journalists and supported the Afghan people.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan also condemned the insurgents for deliberately targeting a civilian aid organisation.
“Today’s attack was particularly deplorable, hitting civilians helping Afghans,” the statement said.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the group attacked the organisation because it was involved in “harmful Western activities” inside Afghanistan.
Taliban insurgents stage near-daily attacks on Afghan forces, even as peace efforts have accelerated to find an end to the country’s 17-year war.
Afghan president Ashraf Ghani called for peace with the Taliban last week and promised to free 175 Taliban prisoners ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began Monday.
The Taliban said they would continue their attacks during Ramadan, but would be “very careful of civilians during any operation”.
The insurgents have rejected past ceasefire proposals, saying US and NATO troops must withdraw from the country first.
The Taliban also refuses to negotiate directly with the government in Kabul, seeing it as a US puppet.