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At Least Ten Killed In Suicide Blast Near Afghan Intelligence Headquarters

Afghan soldiers block a road near the site of a suicide attack in Kabul on December 25.

At least 10 people have been killed in a suicide bombing near the headquarters of Afghanistan's intelligence agency in Kabul, officials say.

The attack took place during the morning rush hour at Abdul Haq Square in the Shash Darak neighborhood of Kabul close to the entrance of the National Directorate for Security (NDS), the Interior Ministry said.

Five other people were injured when the attacker, who was on foot, blew himself up as agency employees were on their way to work.

The U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters are also located in the area.

The Islamic State (IS) extremist group claimed responsibility for the attack through a message on the AMAQ website associated with the militants.

Security forces closed off the main road leading to the NDS building after the attack.

Another Interior Ministry spokesman told the AFP news agency that several people were killed while riding in their car when the attacker, traveling on foot, detonated his bomb.

Both the Taliban and IS have carried out deadly attacks in Kabul in the past. Last week, IS also targeted a training center belonging to the NDS.

Separately, six Afghan border police officers were killed when their military vehicle hit a roadside bomb in the southern province of Helmand.

Omar Zwak, spokesman for the provincial governor, said six other policemen were wounded in the incident which took place in Marjah district.

Qari Yusuf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman, claimed responsibility for the attack in Helmand.

The Western-backed government there has been struggling to fend off militants since the withdrawal of most NATO troops in 2014.

Security in the capital has been ramped up since May 31, when a truck bomb ripped through the city's diplomatic quarter, killing about 150 people and wounding hundreds, mostly civilians.

On December 18, IS claimed responsibility for an attack on the intelligence agency's training center in Kabul. Three attackers were killed in that incident, and several security officers were injured.

On October 20, suicide bombers attacked two Shi'ite mosques in the city, killing more than 72 people.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has sharply criticized neighboring Pakistan, accusing it of providing a safe haven for terrorists operating in Afghanistan. Islamabad denies the allegations.

With reporting by Reuters, Tolo News, AFP, and dpa