Explosions and ongoing gunfire were reported inside a military hospital in the Afghan capital, Kabul, officials said.
Defence ministry officials said the attack started with a blast at the front gate of the Sardar Daud Khan hospital in the Wazir Akbar Khan area in the centre of the city on Wednesday.
Dawlat Waziri, spokesman for the defence ministry, told Al Jazeera that a number of fighters entered the hospital, the largest of its kind in the Afghan capital.
“Our security forces are on location fighting the attackers but they are also being careful to not cause any casualties. It’s a difficult situation,” Waziri said.
Ismail Kawasi, the public health ministry spokesman, told Al Jazeera that at least one patient and one hospital worker were killed in the attack.
There were no immediate reports on additional casualties.
A large plume of smoke could be seen billowing over the hospital after a second explosion rocked the building, several hours after the initial blast.
The Wazir Akbar Khan area of central Kabul is heavily guarded and houses several government offices and foreign embassies.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the ongoing assault.
The attack comes a week after 16 people were killed in simultaneous Taliban suicide assaults on two security compounds in Kabul.
Dozens of others were wounded as a suicide car bomber struck an Afghan police precinct in western Kabul and a five-hour gun battle ensued after another attacker snuck in, sending clouds of smoke billowing into the sky.
In the second attack, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the gates of an Afghan intelligence agency branch in eastern Kabul.
The growing violence underscores rising insecurity in Afghanistan over the resurgent Taliban.
The country is bracing for an intense fighting season in the spring as the government’s repeated bids to launch peace negotiations with the Taliban have failed.
Kabul last month endorsed US general John Nicholson’s call for thousands of additional coalition troops in Afghanistan to fend off the militants before the spring offensive.
Extra troops were needed to end the stalemate in the war, Nicholson, the top US commander in Afghanistan, told the US Congress in what could be President Donald Trump’s first major test of military strategy.
Separately, the Pentagon this year said it would deploy some 300 US Marines this spring to Helmand province alone.
The Marines will assist a NATO-led mission to train Afghan forces, in the latest sign that foreign forces are increasingly being drawn back into the worsening conflict.
afghanistan army police casualties infographic[Source: Al Jazeera News]