Kabul: A large explosion followed by gunfire was heard in the Afghanistan capital Kabul on Wednesday, with initial reports placing the blast near a tightly-secured area housing key buildings including the police headquarters.

The explosion was heard in the diplomatic district of Wazir Akbar Khan, while gunfire was reported from near the French embassy.

First reports located the explosion close to the area housing the police HQ, national intelligence headquarters and the interior ministry.

"There was a big boom around noon and then we heard an exchange of fire close to the Green Zone," a diplomatic source said.

A spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force confirmed the explosion and gunfire but said there was no ISAF involvement in the incident and he was unaware at this stage of the cause of the blast or casualties.

Kabul is regularly targeted by Taliban insurgents waging war against the government of President Hamid Karzai and his NATO backers.

In the most recent attack, a Taliban car bomb targeted a US company in Kabul on December 17, killing one person and wounding at least 15.

A suicide car bomber killed 12 people, including eight South Africans, on September 18.

(Agencies)

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