Explosion rocks central Kabul; Taliban claims ‘suicide attacks’

Afghan security forces respond to a car bomb attack by Taliban militants near a foreign guesthouse in Kabul, Afghanistan, Friday, Dec. 11, 2015. A Taliban spokesman said a suicide bomber targeted the guesthouse in Shir Pur, an area with embassies and other diplomatic buildings that seen to be one of the safer parts of the Afghan capital.(AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

(CNN) — A car bomb exploded at or near the Spanish Embassy in Afghanistan’s capital early Friday evening, a source briefed on the incident said on condition of anonymity, and the Taliban have claimed they had begun “suicide attacks” in the same area.

An explosion and sporadic gunfire were heard in Kabul’s Sherpoor area, a location that hosts not only embassies but also the homes of many expatriates.

An initial report indicated that a car exploded in the area, Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said on Twitter without immediately elaborating.

But like the anonymous source, an Italian aid organization said the Spanish Embassy had been attacked.

The Italian aid group, named Emergency, which runs a hospital about 700 meters from the embassy, said it received seven Afghan patients after the assault.

Meanwhile, the Taliban — the Islamist militan group that controlled much of the country before a 2001 U.S.-led invasion — claimed responsibility for “suicide attacks” in Kabul’s Sherpoor area Friday.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said “suicide attacks started on a guesthouse of invaders in the Sherpoor area of Kabul in the evening.”

The spokesman also claimed that clashes took place and resulted in heavy casualties. Afghan officials have not confirmed any casualties.

Gunshots could be heard after the blast, said journalist Sune Rasmussen, who was near the area.

“(There was a) big explosion … followed by erratic gunfire,” Rasmussen said.

Sediqqi, on Twitter, said Afghan forces were evaluating the scene.

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