A big explosion went off in the Afghan capital, Kabul, on Wednesday, sending clouds of black smoke spiralling over the centre of the city in an area near the presidential palace and foreign embassies.

Several people were killed and wounded in the blast near the fortified entrance to the German embassy, said Basir Mujahid a spokesman for Kabul police.

"It was a car bomb near the German embassy, but there are several other important compounds and offices near there too. It is hard to say what the exact target is," Mujahid said.

The explosion shattered windows and blew doors off their hinges in houses hundreds of meters (yards) away.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blast. A spokesman for Taliban insurgents said he was gathering information.

(Feature image source: Twitter/@shafiwhamdam)