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At Least Six Civilians Killed In Suicide Blast Near Afghan National Intelligence Office

Afghan officials say at least five people were killed in a blast near the intelligence agency compound in Kabul.

A suicide bomber blew himself up near Afghanistan's national intelligence agency compound in Kabul early on December 25, killing at least six civilians, security officials say.

Nasrat Rahimi, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said the attack took place at 7:40 a.m. at Abdul-Hak Square in the Shash Darak neighborhood of Kabul close to the entrance of the National Directorate for Security (NDS).

The U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters are also located in the area.

The Islamic State (IS) extremist group claimed responsibility for the attack through a message on the AMAQ website associated with the militants.

A Ministry of Public Health spokesman said at least three people were wounded and taken to the hospital for treatment.

Security forces closed off the main road leading to the NDS building after the attack.

Another Interior Ministry spokesman told the AFP news agency that six civilians were killed while riding in their car when the attacker, traveling on foot, detonated his bomb.

"They were hit when they were passing the area in their Toyota sedan vehicle. We still do not know the target of the attack, but it happened on the main road," spokesman Najib Danish said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

Both the Taliban and IS have carried out deadly attacks in Kabul in the past. The Western-backed government there has been struggling to fend off militants since the withdrawal of most NATO troops in 2014.

Security in the capital has been ramped up since May 31, when a truck bomb ripped through the city's diplomatic quarter, killing about 150 people and wounding hundreds, mostly civilians.

On December 18, IS claimed responsibility for an attack on the intelligence agency's training center in Kabul. Three attackers were killed in that incident, and several security officers were injured.

On October 20, suicide bombers attacked two Shi'ite mosques in the city, killing more than 72 people.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has sharply criticized neighboring Pakistan, accusing it of providing a safe haven for terrorists operating in Afghanistan. Islamabad denies the allegations.

With reporting by Reuters, Tolo News, AFP, and dpa