An attack in which the Taliban claimed to have infiltrated key government sites in central Kabul killed five people on Monday morning, hospital officials said. Thirty-eight other people were injured, said Dr. Kabir Amiri, head of Kabul hospitals.
At least two explosions and gunfire shook central Kabul about 9:20 a.m. Monday, with the Taliban saying it was conducting a militant operation.
The attack started as 14 members of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's Cabinet were to be sworn in, said Parliament member Fawzia Koofi.
About 20 Taliban insurgents entered the presidential palace; the ministries of finance, mines and justice; and the Serena Hotel, said spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid. The militants claimed responsibility for one explosion, which was later followed by at least one another.
NATO-led forces said "several small explosions" and gunfire were reported near the Feroshgah e Afghan Shopping Center and the Serena Hotel, and later added that "numerous" suicide bombers had attacked government buildings close to the presidential palace and the Ministry of Justice.
At least two insurgents had been killed at the shopping center, NATO-led forces said in a news release, which also said that Afghan national police had secured all roads in th e area. A separate news release condemned the attack, which NATO-led forces said took place amid many civilians.
An unknown number of downtown buildings were on fire, with smoke billowing above. It was not immediately clear which buildings were burning.
Monday's assault followed weekend violence that killed at least three international troops and 14 militants in Afghanistan, authorities said.