DOZENS of people have been killed and more than 200 seriously injured following a Taliban suicide car bomb attack on Afghanistan's national security agency.
The attack, in Kabul, took plae at around 9.45 am local time, with witnesses saying the "very loud" blast hit the busy Puli Mahmood Khan area.
The Taliban said they had carried out the suicide bombing on "Department 10", an National Directorate of Security unit, which is responsible for protecting government ministers and VIPs.
A thick plume of black smoke could be seen near the American Embassy, which was not hit by the attack.
The Presidential Palace condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms" and said in a statement a number of people had been killed or wounded.
Civilians and members of the Afghan security forces were among those caught in the attack and casualty estimates are expected to rise.
The blast comes just days after the Taliban announced the launch of its "spring offensive".
The group warned it would "employ large-scale attacks on enemy positions" during the offensive, dubbed Operation Omari.
The Afghan government hopes to bring the group back to the negotiating table to end their drawn-out conflict.
Josh Smith tweeted: "Blast hit general area of Kabul near NDS intelligence agency, presidential palace, Ministry of Defense. Many important government buildings."
Ahmad Shuja added: "Explosion about 10 miles away rattled our windows, rippling through the Kabul hills and high-rises that stand in between. That was big."
And Anuj Chopra said: "Very loud explosion just jolted Kabul. Windows rattled wildly. Hope everyone's okay."