At least seven people have been killed in several large explosions in the Afghan capital Kabul, shortly after US President Barack Obama paid a surprise visit to the country.
At least 17 people were also wounded in the assault on Wednesday morning, most of them Afghan children on their way to school, the interior ministry said.
Sediq Sediqi, a spokesperson for interior ministry, said one of the first blasts, a suicide car bomb, occurred near the Jalalabad road, a main thoroughfare of the city.
The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for the car bomb attack which police said targeted a housing compound for westerners in the city. The area, known as the Green Village, is also home to several foreign military bases.
“One of our mujahideen detonated his car in front of a military base,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told the Reuters news agency in a phone call.
“Other mujahideen are inside the base fighting. There are very heavy casualties for the enemy.
“It is a message to Obama that he and his forces are never welcomed in Afghanistan and that we will continue our resistance until all the occupiers are either dead or leave our country,” Mujahid later told the AFP news agency.
Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, reporting from Kabul, said: “The Taliban is claiming responsibility for this attack on the Green Village, saying it is connected to the visit of the US president.”
The blasts began at around 1:30 GMT (6:00am local time). By 5.30 GMT (10.00am local time), the area appeared to have calmed down with NATO saying all the attackers had been killed.
“The area that seems to have been targeted is what is known as the Green Village and this is on Jalalabad road on the way out of Kabul,” Smith said.
“It is home to a lot of foreign workers and we are told that at least two suicide bombers tried to get into the Green Village.
“There are children among the casualties. It happened at around 6 – 6.30 this morning when children would have been walking along that road past the Green Village on their way to school.”
The gate at the entrance of the Green Village was destroyed, with the wreckage of the suicide bomber’s car sitting in
front. The road running past the compound was littered with shoes, books, school supplies and the bloody ID card of a student from a nearby school.
At least three explosions were heard in the area, witnesses said. An Afghan official said the blasts were followed by sporadic shooting.
Obama left Kabul just hours before the attacks after signing a strategic agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
The US embassy in Kabul, said its embassy was “under lockdown” and warned staff to “take cover, move away from the windows”.
“Duck and cover here at the embassy. Not a drill – avoid the area,” the US embassy said on Twitter.