Suspected Taliban militants launched an attack Tuesday morning near the Afghan Defense Ministry and presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, CNN reports.
At least 28 people died and another 300 were wounded. The attack targeted security forces in the capital, but the victims were mainly civilians, including women and children, Afghan authorities told CNN.
An Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman said it was a two-pronged attack. A suicide bomber blew up a vehicle in a parking lot next to a government building that housed an agency protecting high-profile officials. After the explosion, a gunman entered the building and opened fire. Security forces killed the second attacker in a gun battle.
Shortly after the assault, the Taliban claimed responsibility. This comes a week after the militants announced the launch of its annual spring offensive against the Afghan government and foreign troops.
“Today’s attack shows the insurgents are unable to meet Afghan forces on the battlefield and must resort to these terrorist attacks,” said Gen. John W. Nicholson, the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, according to CNN.
Afghan President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani issued a statement condemning the attack. He said it “clearly shows the enemy’s defeat in face-to-face battle” against Afghan security forces.
However, the BBC reports that correspondents on the ground say the militants have gotten stronger since the drawdown of American and other foreign troops. At the same time, a fresh crop of militant fighters is joining the Taliban.
According to the BBC, a second explosion rocked the Afghan capital hours following the Tuesday morning assault. An Afghan police official told the BBC that the second attack involved an improvised explosive device.