Taliban insurgents have launched a surprise attack on the Afghan presidential palace and the CIA office in Kabul, rocking the area with gunfire and explosions.
The attack triggered an intense gunfight which lasted for nearly 90 minutes, and it is reported that all the militants were killed by Afghan forces during the shoot-out.
More than a dozen blasts were reported outside the presidential palace early in the morning. The surrounding area includes a cluster of high-security buildings, including embassies and government offices.
Afghan officials have not released details of the casualties, but they insist the situation has been brought under control.
A Taliban spokesperson has officially claimed responsibility for the attack which is believed to be a response to President Hamid Karzai's objection to the US-orchestrated peace talks with the Taliban.
"A big group of attackers have struck against the CIA office as the main target and also the palace and the defence ministry nearby," the spokesperson of the militant outfit, Zabihullah Mujahid, told AFP.
The whereabouts of Karzai, who was scheduled to address a press conference earlier in the day, remain unknown.
The assailants are thought to have used fake IDs in order to gain access to the presidential palace.
The attack began after one of the militants opened fire at the security forces with an automatic weapon at about 06:30 am local time (02:00 GMT).