Car Bomb, Gunfire Near Afghan Interior Ministry; Terror Attack Suspected

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A gun and bomb attack on the interior ministry in Kabul is over with all the attackers killed, the Afghan capital's police chief said, more than an hour after the unidentified gunmen launched their assault.

A senior police official said a vehicle bomb was detonated near the ministry's entrance and then a gun battle between attackers and members of the security forces broke out. The statement called it an "immersion attack" on the ministry in Kabul.

U.S. Forces in Afghanistan reported that more than 50 Taliban senior leaders, including the deputy Taliban shadow governor of Helmand, was killed in a targeted strike using rocket artillery.

The report to Congress by inspectors general of the Pentagon, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development also cast doubt on the administration's decision to send a new set of military advisers this year to work with Afghan forces closer to the front lines.

The first attacker detonated his explosive vest at the front gate and the second group of gunmen tried to storm the facility, he said.

The Western-backed government in Kabul has been struggling to fend off the Taliban and other militant groups since the withdrawal of most North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops in 2014.

The violence left at least four security forces members dead, according to officials.

"In half-an-hour security forces killed all the attackers.

Eight civilians have also been wounded", provincial police spokesman Shapoor Ahmadzai told AFP.

US forces killed more than 50 Taliban leaders in a series of strikes against those behind a recent attack in the Helmand provincial capital of Farah, US military and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation commander General John Nicholson said on Wednesday.

He would not identify the figures involved in the negotiations, except to say that they included mid- and senior-level Taliban officials.

In the northern province of Takhar, Taliban fighters in the Dasht-e Qala district centre captured the governor's compound and police headquarters on Wednesday but heavy fighting was continuing, police spokesman Khalil Aseer said.

All the attackers were killed by security forces after a almost two-hour assault. It is unclear who carried out the attack, though the southern province is the Taliban's historic heartland. He said the victims included mechanics who had been contracted to fix Afghan army vehicles. "The attackers were not able to enter the ministry".