As day broke, gunfire and occasional explosions rang out over the industrial zone where security forces had taken up positions near the site of the Northgate Hotel, a secure residential compound for foreign military and civilian organizations.

Security officials said four heavily armed attackers were at the site, suggesting a coordinated operation between suicide bombers and gunmen.

There was no immediate word on casualties from Afghan authorities, although the Taliban claimed there were "dozens of dead and wounded". The Islamist group often exaggerates the extent of attacks it launches against Afghan government and foreign security targets.

After the attack, Afghan security forces closed off streets around the site, which is east of Kabul's main international airport and on the way to the sprawling Bagram air base north of the city.

Columns of vehicles carrying troops and police were in the area and heavy automatic gunfire could be heard, along with rocket propelled grenades fired by Afghan security forces.

Telephone calls to the hotel went unanswered. The facility is in a walled compound of a type typically used by foreign security and civilian organizations in Kabul. There were also widespread reports of power outages in Kabul after the blast, with electricity cut off in several areas of the city.

 A spokeswoman for the NATO-led Resolute Support mission, said they were assessing the situation but gave no details. A statement from the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and said its fighters had entered the compound.

The attack comes around a week after the Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a demonstration by members of the mainly Shi'ite Hazara minority, killing at least 80 people.

It followed an attack on a convoy of Nepalese security contractors who worked for the Canadian embassy in June as well as other attacks on foreigners in Kabul, including a suicide attack on Camp Baron, a camp used by foreign contractors in January.

The Taliban, which often says it wants to avoid civilian casualties, said the compound was not near homes and that ordinary people were not harmed.

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