At least eight dead as suicide bomber detonates explosives near the Russian embassy’s entrance in Kabul, with police saying the attacker was shot dead.
The dead include two employees of the embassy, the Russian foreign ministry said on Monday, according to a report by the state-owned RIA Novosti news agency.
The ministry did not offer any details as to who the staff members were or how they died.
Earlier, RIA Novosti, citing anonymous sources, said 15-20 people were killed or wounded due to the explosion which occurred when a Russian diplomat came out to people waiting outside to call out the names of the candidates for a visa.
“It (blast) actually happened close to the embassy where there was a crowd of people gathered to apply for the Russian visa,” Kabul-based journalist Najib Lalzoy told Al Jazeera.
Locals said a large number of people were present at the spot when the bomb exploded.
“The eyewitnesses close to the Russian embassy say the casualties could be very high. Some of them say that even Russian diplomats are among the dead. But it is yet to be confirmed here in Kabul,” Lalzoy told Al Jazeera.
Police said the attacker was shot dead by armed guards as he approached the embassy gate in Darul Aman area in the southwest of the Afghan capital.
“The suicide attacker, before reaching the target, was recognised and shot by Russian embassy (Taliban) guards,” Mawlawi Sabir, the head of the police district where the attack took place, told the Reuters news agency.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosion, the latest to strike the country days after it marked a year of Taliban seizing power.
The Taliban government did not immediately confirm the explosion or give any casualty figures.
Russia is one of the few countries to have maintained an embassy in Kabul after the Taliban took over the country more than a year ago.
Although Moscow does not officially recognise the Taliban’s government, they have been in talks with officials over an agreement supply gasoline and other commodities.
In recent weeks, the ISIL (ISIS) group has targeted civilians as well as religious seminaries and mosques in Kabul and other parts of the country.