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Powerful bomb blast rocks Kabul as militants attack defence ministry

The blast sent a plume of black smoke over the city, with witnesses saying the sound shook their office building, as sporadic gunfire and the wail of ambulance sirens pierced the air.

Clustered in the area are military and government buildings, as well as the Afghan Football Federation, whose spokesman, Shafi Shadab, said its chief, Yosuf Kargar, was among several members injured.

The attack comes as US special peace envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad holds a seventh round of peace talks with the Taliban Islamist militant group in Qatar, aimed at bringing an end to the 18-year war in Afghanistan.

The peace talks have focused on four issues, ranging from counter-terrorism, and withdrawal of foreign troops to an intra-Afghan dialogue and a comprehensive ceasefire.

The capital has been relatively quiet in recent months following a spate of violent explosions, many claimed by the local Islamic State affiliate. The Taliban, who have also carried out scores of attacks in Kabul, said they had no claim of responsibility for the blast.

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