KABUL - The Afghan capital Kabul came under coordinated attack Sunday, with explosions and gunfire rocking the diplomatic enclave as militants took over a hotel and tried to enter parliament.
Taliban insurgents claimed the attacks.
Witnesses said suicide bombers had taken over the newly-built Kabul Star hotel, which was reportedly on fire in an area which includes a major US military base, the United Nations office and the presidential palace.
The area was sealed off by security forces.
Several other attackers tried to enter the Afghan parliament but were engaged by security forces and driven back, an official said.
They had taken cover in a building near the parliament and fighting was ongoing, parliamentary media officer Qudratullah Jawid told AFP.
Gunfire and explosions were reported from at least three areas of the capital, including the diplomatic enclave.
As the attacks began, several large explosions and bursts of gunfire were heard near the United States embassy.
The embassy sounded alarms and warned staff to take cover, AFP reporters heard from their office near the embassy in the Wazir Akbar Khan area, which houses many diplomatic missions.
The incidents come as Taliban militants step up their attacks as part of their annual spring offensive, heralding the so-called "fighting season".
In September last year Taliban attacks targeting locations including the US embassy and headquarters of foreign troops in Kabul killed at least 14 during a 19-hour siege.
In August, nine people, including a New Zealand special forces soldier, were killed when suicide bombers attacked the British Council cultural centre.
NATO has about 130,000 troops supporting the government of President Hamid Karzai against the Taliban insurgency, but they will pull out by the end of 2014, handing control of security to Afghan forces.