Gunmen attack intelligence service centre in Kabul

Afghan volunteers carry a body on a stretcher to a hospital Wednesday after a suicide attack in Kabul

No group has claimed responsibility, but the bombing resembles previous attacks that have been claimed by ISIS. The Taliban has not taken any responsibility of the blast as of yet.

Both male and female students were studying at the center, preparing for entrance exams.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the "terrorist" attack that "martyred and wounded the innocent" - students attending class - and ordered an investigation into the attack.

The United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation launched airstrikes and sent military advisers to aid Afghan forces as they fight for the city, just 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the Afghan capital with a population of some 270,000 people.

The attack comes after a bloody week in Afghanistan.

Mohammad Safdar Mohseni, head of the provincial council, reportedly said the Taliban fighters set fire to checkpoints after they waged their attack in the Baghlan-i Markazi district.

"The defence ministry confirmed the incident early on Wednesday, but gave no details".

It also showed how militants are still able to stage large-scale attacks, even in the heart of Kabul, and underscored the struggles of the Afghan forces to provide security and stability on their own.

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The firefight erupted near a training center overseen by the National Security Directorate - Afghanistan's intelligence agency - with the gunmen holed up in a construction site near residential buildings, an official at the scene said.

In the southern province of Zabul, Taliban insurgents clashed with soldiers on Tuesday, forcing the government to send reinforcements from neighbouring provinces to retain control of two checkposts. And six young girls were killed after playing with an unexploded rocket shell, an official in the eastern province of Laghman told the wire service.

The base had reportedly been under Taliban siege for 48 hours.

The attack comes on the heels of one of the most serious militant challenges to Kabul's authority in years, as fierce fighting continued in Ghazni, an Afghan city south of Kabul.

The Taliban launched a coordinated offensive last Friday, overwhelming the city's defenses and capturing several neighborhoods.

"It took Afghan forces - assisted by US advisors - five days to repel the insurgents", NPR's Diaa Hadid reports.

Numerous dead were security forces, he said, adding that many more had been injured, as fighting continued despite government and United States assurances that the assault had failed.

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