A suicide attack on a British embassy vehicle in Afghanistan capital Kabul has left at least five people dead, including a British national, and 20 others wounded, according to the country's Health Ministry.

General Ayoub Salangi, the deputy interior minister, said the bomber was riding a motorcycle on Jalalabad Road during Thursday's attack.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it "targeted foreign invading forces" and many were killed and wounded.

The British embassy in Kabul confirmed to Al Jazeera that their vehicle was hit in the attack, adding that there were no diplomats in the vehicle, and that a number of its staff were being treated for injuries.

Al Jazeera's Charles Stratford, reporting from Kabul, said the Taliban has struck numerous targets along Jalalabad Road in recent weeks.

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"The fighters promised to step up attacks after the Afghan president [Ashraf Ghani] gave go ahead for some foreign forces to remain behind and train Afghan troops at the end of the year. It seems they are doing exactly that," he said.

The explosion could be heard across Kabul and a plume of smoke rose high into the air above the attack site on Jalalabad Road, a main route that houses many foreign compounds and military facilities.

The bombing is the latest in a wave of attacks to hit Kabul as the majority of foreign combat troops withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of the year after 13 years of war against the Taliban and its allies.

Following the attack, Richard Stagg, British ambassador to Afghanistan, vowed to continue extending help to the government in Kabul, and help the country "enjoy peace and security." 

Fears are growing that Afghanistan could tip into a cycle of violence as the NATO military presence declines, with the national security forces already suffering high battlefield casualties.

Ghani, who came to power in September, has pledged to bring peace to Afghanistan after decades of conflict, saying he is open to talks with the Taliban, who ruled Kabul from 1996 to 2001.

Ghani finally emerged as president after signing a power-sharing deal with Abdullah Abdullah, his poll rival.

Both men claimed to have won fraud-tainted elections in a prolonged stand-off that caused political paralysis in Kabul and stoked violence nationwide.

In another development, Britain ended its 13-year military presence in southern Afghanistan this week, when the last Royal Air Force personnel departed left Kandahar airfield.

The British military contribution next year will be the supervision of an officers' training academy outside Kabul.

 

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies