Two Taliban suicide bombers struck near a U.S. base in Kabul early Wednesday, killing two Afghan guards in the heart of a neighbourhood filled with foreign forces and embassies. The attack came despite increased security ahead of a Muslim holy day that last year saw one of the capital’s deadliest attacks.

The bombers apparently meant to target the American base but were spotted by security guards as they approached on foot. The guards fired on the assailants, killing them, but not before one of the vests exploded, said Gen. Mohammad Daoud Amin, the deputy provincial police chief.

Two Afghan security guards were killed and five civilians were wounded in the morning explosion, he said.

The blast reverberated around Kabul’s Wazir Akbar Khan neighbourhood. An alarm started going off at the nearby U.S. Embassy, warning staff to take cover. The neighbourhood also is home to many high—ranking Afghan officials, international organisations and the headquarters of the international military coalition.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing in an email to reporters.

The attack came as foreign and Afghan forces tightened their watch over the capital ahead of the holy day of Ashoura on Saturday, when Shiite Muslims commemorate the seventh century death of Imam Hussein.

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