Downtown Kabul was rocked by a powerful explosion near the Defence Ministry on Monday.

Smoke could be seen billowing over Kabul as officials reportedly say at least 34 civilians and six security force members were killed when a car bomb exploded in the heart of the diplomatic district, and a subsequent firefight ensued between militants and security forces.

Afghan media reports say suspects took cover in a nearby building and are currently engaged in an exchange of gunfire with security forces.

The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack.

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