A suicide bomber killed nine people and injured 13 at an entrance to the Afghan Defence Ministry in central Kabul on Saturday.

General Mohammad Zahir, the Kabul police chief of crime investigation, said the bombing occurred in the morning as ministry staff were entering the compound.

“A suicide bomber riding a bicycle detonated his explosive—packed vest at a Defence Ministry entrance gate at 9 am,” a police statement said.

Ministry officials were not immediately available to comment.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack which they claimed killed 15 Afghan army personnel.

Spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said a militant named Mohammad targeted a queue of ministry personnel at the entrance.

“It was a pre—planned attack and the US defence secretary wasn’t the target, but it contains a message to him,” he said.

The attack came hours after new US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel arrived in Afghanistan to hold talks with President Hamid Karzai and NATO officials.

A spokesman for the US military in Kabul said Hagel was not at the ministry when the bombing occurred.

Mr. Hagel addressed US and NATO—led troops in Kabul late Friday.

About 66,000 US troops and 30,000 allied forces are in the country fighting the 11—year—old Taliban insurgency. Foreign combat troops are scheduled to leave in 2014.

More In: World | International | News