Taliban militants attacked a compound that houses a foreign NGO in Kabul on Saturday — the second foreign residence assaulted in just three days in the Afghan capital.
Saturday's assault — which left three hostages dead in an upscale part of the city — follows a week of increased violence as American and NATO troops prepare to withdraw from the country at the end of this year.
The NGO is reportedly a Christian missionary center run by South Africans. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack on Twitter and described the target as a "Christian proselytizing compound (also used as intelligence center)."
The assault began around 4pm when a group of men with machine guns, suicide vests, and grenades stormed the compound and exchanged fire with security forces. The men were reportedly wearing Afghan National Army uniforms.
Businesses nearby shuttered their doors, and a neighbor a few streets away told NBC News that the shooting was worse than he had ever witnessed.
"I haven't heard this much firing in my entire life," the neighbor said. "It is very scary, just like war."
Two foreign hostages and one Afghan staff member were killed. Several other hostages managed to escape.
Elsewhere in Afghanistan, Reuters reported that Taliban fighters attacked Camp Bastion, a former US and British military base now occupied by Afghan troops.
The confrontations come just two days after the Taliban attacked a British embassy vehicle and a foreign aid guesthouse, and five days after an attack on NATO forces that killed two US soldiers.
Earlier this year, the Taliban tried to target a Christian-run daycare center, but accidentally bombed a neighboring American government contractor's building instead.
The US Embassy in Kabul quickly responded to the Saturday attack with a warning that the Taliban would not gain power through acts of terror.
Meanwhile, some Afghan citizens responded with despair at the seemingly senseless upsurge of violence.
"This is not jihad, this is terror," one Kabul resident tweeted. "Taliban has missed the reality of Islam, their actions [are] against Islam."
Follow Meredith Hoffman on Twitter: @merhoffman