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Car Bomb Targets Afghan Defense Minister's House in Kabul

FILE - The green zone is seen in Kabul, Afghanistan, March 13, 2019.

A powerful explosion rocked the heart of the Afghan capital late Tuesday, followed by gunfire inside Kabul's heavily fortified green zone.

"7:54 PM Kabul That was a loud bang in Kabul. Shook my home. Explosion followed by gunfire," Kabul-based journalist Bilal Sarwary tweeted.

"Yes, same here. Felt like an earthquake," journalist Magda Gad responded on Twitter.

Several sources confirmed to VOA that a suicide bomb attack was carried out on the house of Afghanistan's Defense Minister Gen. Bismillah Khan Mohammadi. The minister was not at home and his family was evacuated to safety.

Soon after the attack, the general reassured the public through his Twitter account.

"Do not worry. Everything is fine," he said.

Local media reported that it was a complex attack involving a vehicle-born improvised explosive device followed by gunmen who tried to enter the house of the defense minister.

Mirwais Stanikzai, a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, told journalists that the attack happened in an area called Sherpour, near the upscale neighborhood of Wazir Akbar Khan. No casualties have been reported.

Several other government officials and members of parliament live in the area.

Eyewitnesses said the sound of the explosion could be heard kilometers away. Several local residents posted pictures on social media showing gray smoke rising into the sky.

The area was quickly surrounded by security forces.

The attack did not deter Kabul residents from coming out and shouting, "Allah o Akbar," a pre-scheduled activity in solidarity with fellow Afghans in Herat city who shouted these words after they warded off a Taliban attack.

Several Afghan cities, including Herat, were besieged over the weekend. Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, continues to see heavy fighting between government forces and the Taliban.