Kabul blast
[Representative Image] Afghan security forces stand guard near the site of multiple blasts in Kabul on December 28, 2017.SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

At least 26 people have been killed and 18 others were injured in Kabul, Afghanistan, in a suspected suicide attack during the Nowruz celebrations for the New Year festival in the country Wednesday, an interior ministry spokesman said. 

Initial reports suggested that the bomber attacked hundreds of people near a shrine in the capital city. The suicide bomber approached the Sakhi shrine on foot and detonated the bomb, an interior ministry spokesman told the BBC.

According to ToloNews, the explosion occurred at the Kart-e-Char area in PD3, near Ali Abad hospital and Kabul University.

Amaq news agency said the Islamic State group (IS) had claimed responsibility for the attack in a message. "The martyrdom operation carried out with a suicide vest struck a Shi'ite gathering during their Norouz holiday celebrations in the city of Kabul," said the IS-leaning agency.

Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danesh said the bomber tried to reach the shrine but was stopped at police checkpoints.

"We had our security in place in and around the shrine," he said, according to Reuters. "All the casualties were young men who were either passing by on the road or gathering to enjoy Nowruz."