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Massive explosion rocks central Kabul

Witnesses say a thick plume of black smoke could be seen rising from the vicinity in the Afghan capital.

Smoke billows in central Kabul where a heavy explosion was heard on 19 April 2016, witnesses told Reuters. Picture: @rgsarwan

KABUL - An explosion rocked central Kabul early on Tuesday and a thick plume of black smoke could be seen rising from the vicinity of the sprawling US embassy in the Afghan capital, Reuters witnesses said, but there was no immediate report of casualties.

Warning sirens blared out from the embassy compound, which is also close to the headquarters of the main NATO-led mission in Afghanistan. There was no indication of the source of the blast, but rocket attacks remain relatively common in the city.

Several major Afghan security agencies are based in the area, including the National Directorate of Security. The Ministry of Defence and the presidential palace are also within a few hundred metres.

There was no indication of what caused the blast, nor any claim of responsibility, although both the Taliban and the al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network have carried out attacks in the city in the past.

The Taliban-led insurgency has gained strength since the withdrawal of international forces from combat at the end of 2014 and the Taliban are stronger than at any point since they were driven from power by US-backed forces in 2001.

The US embassy said it was not affected by the blast. The NATO-led force also said it was unaffected.