JALALABAD: Suicide bombers detonated an explosives-packed car near the Indian consulate in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad on Saturday morning, officials said, killing at least three civilians.

A spokesman for the Taliban militants immediately denied any responsibility for the attack, which rocked the city and left several houses, tailors and other nearby shops badly damaged.

“A car containing explosives hit a barrier near the consulate and detonated,” Ahmadzia Abdulzai, Nangarhar province spokesman, told AFP.

“Three civilians were killed and about 20 were wounded. There were three suicide bombers in the car.”

Syed Akbaruddin, a spokesman for the Indian foreign ministry in New Delhi, said on his Twitter feed that the attack had been “in front” of the consulate, but that all officials were safe.

An AFP photographer said ambulances rushed to the scene and took the injured to hospital as security forces cordoned off the area around the blast site.

“Our fighters have not carried out any attack in Jalalabad,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told AFP.

“We do not claim the responsibility for this attack.”

Jalalabad is situated on the key route from the Pakistani border region to Kabul, and it has been the scene of repeated attacks in recent years.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) compound in the city was hit on May 29, in an attack that the Taliban militants also denied any involvement. One Afghan guard died in the two-hour assault that began with a suicide blast.

In March seven suicide bombers attacked a police base in Jalalabad, killing five officers.

In February, a bomber rammed an explosives-laden car into the gates of the walled compound of the National Directorate of Security spy agency and detonated his bombs, killing two intelligence workers.

Nine Taliban suicide attackers also targeted the Nato base at Jalalabad airport in early December, killing five people and wounding several foreign troops.

Islamists have waged a 12-year insurgency against the Afghan government since being overthrown in 2001 in an invasion for harbouring Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.