Two suicide bombers struck security targets in the Afghan capital less than an hour apart Wednesday afternoon, killing at least 16 people and wounding dozens, officials said.
In the first of the apparently coordinated attacks, an assailant detonated a car packed with explosives near the entrance to a police district headquarters in western Kabul, according to a statement from the interior ministry.
A massive plume of dark smoke rose from the blast as several other militants then engaged in a gun battle with Afghan security forces, the ministry said.
The second blast occurred in eastern Kabul, when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in front of a building belonging to the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan's intelligence agency.
A second attacker was immediately gunned down by security forces, officials said.
Ismail Kawoosi, a spokesman for the ministry of public health, said 16 people were killed and 44 injured victims had been brought to Kabul hospitals following the blasts.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attacks, saying the Taliban was avenging the death of a senior militant commander, Mullah Salam, in a U.S. military airstrike Sunday. The U.S. strike, which the Pentagon confirmed Tuesday, killed five militants in the northern province of Kunduz.
The first of the Kabul attacks caused more damage, shattering glass in shops and houses far from the blast site.
Quraishi, a 33-year-old baker who has only one name, said he was standing inside his shop about 300 feet from the blast.
"When I heard the boom, I left my shop immediately and saw that a huge cloud of dust had covered the area," he said.
Faizy is a special correspondent. Times staff writer Shashank Bengali contributed to this report from Mumbai, India.
9:10 a.m.: This article was updated with a higher death toll.