Several mortar shells slammed into various part of Kabul on Tuesday morning, wounding at least 10 civilians, shaking the main diplomatic district and sending foreign embassies into lockdown, officials and sources said.
Fourteen rockets were fired from two vehicles in Kabul, interior ministry spokesman Tareq Arian said, adding that two suspects had been arrested.
“Most of these rockets have hit civilian houses in Kabul,” Arian said.
“Unfortunately, 10 civilians including four children and one woman have been wounded.”
It was not immediately clear who was behind the attack on Afghanistan’s independence day at a time when the United States is withdrawing troops and encouraging peace talks to end almost 19 years of war.
Witnesses said some of the rockets fell near the palace and the defence ministry in a heavily fortified area that also houses several embassies.
Sources told the Reuters news agency the diplomatic area was quickly placed under lockdown after the blasts, as workers in embassies took cover in safe rooms.
The attack came a day after the government said it would not release the last 320 Taliban prisoners it holds until the armed group frees more captured Afghan soldiers.
The decision went against that of a traditional Afghan council held earlier this month – the Loya Jirga – and is likely to further delay intra-Afghan peace talks sought by the US.
Meanwhile, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said he was not aware of the attack in Kabul.
Also on Tuesday morning, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani attended an independence day ceremony at the Defence Ministry in Kabul, inspecting an honour guard and laying flowers on the Independence Minaret monument there.
Afghanistan was never a part of Britain’s empire but it became officially independent from British influence in August 1919.