Seven Taliban insurgents including suicide bombers attacked the main airport in the Afghan capital, Kabul, early on Monday (June 10) with explosions and gunfire heard near an area that also houses major foreign military bases.

The attackers took up positions inside a partially constructed building next to the international airport, interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said, and fought Afghan security forces for about four hours before the raid ended.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Roads were sealed off and flights out of the airport were quickly cancelled, while incoming flights were diverted to the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif.

While it did not escalate dramatically, Monday's assault will add to mounting concerns over how the 352,000-strong Afghan security forces will cope with an intensifying insurgency once most foreign combat troops leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

The attack began at about 4.30 a.m. (2400 GMT), soon after morning prayers, and plumes of smoke were seen rising from behind razor-wire fences at the airport. The fighting ended about four hours later.

Police said the attack appeared to be centred on the military side of the airport, to the west of the civilian terminal, and that the attackers were dressed as police.

Kabul Police Chief General Mohammad Ayub Salangi said that two suicide bombers blew themselves up and another five were killed in the fighting. There appeared to be no casualties among Afghan security forces or civilians.

Salangi also said a van packed with explosives hidden under vegetables was destroyed when security forces fired a rocket-propelled grenade at it.

The Taliban said the attack was part of its 2013 "spring offensive".

Embassies in the diplomatic zone in the centre of Kabul were locked down and emergency alerts were heard ringing from several Western missions and military bases soon after the attack began.

Presented by Adam Justice