Black smoke billowed into the air above the neighbourhood in northwestern Kabul as the sound of gunfire, blasts and ambulance sirens could be heard.

Panicked residents, including women and children, could be seen fleeing the area.

The interior ministry said at least four militants had attacked the embassy, beginning with a suicide bomber who detonated his vest at the compound entrance.

“The quick-response police forces arrived in time and evacuated the Iraqi diplomats to safe place. No embassy staff have been harmed, only one policeman was wounded slightly,” a ministry statement said.

The Iraqi foreign ministry in Baghdad said the charge d’affairs was among those evacuated and that it is monitoring the situation with Afghan authorities, without giving further details.

The Islamic State’s propaganda agency Amaq released a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, saying two members “attacked the Iraqi embassy building in the Afghan city of Kabul”.

The embassy is located in northwestern Kabul, in a neighbourhood that is home to several hotels and banks as well as large supermarkets and several police compounds.