HEART: The United Nations office in the western Afghan city of Herat came under armed attack on Saturday, officials said, but initial reports suggested there had been no casualties.
"The incident is ongoing. We are working closely with local authorities," Mr Dan McNorton, media officer for the UN in Kabul, told AFP.
Another UN official, who asked not to be named, said: "There appears to have been an attack of some kind."
An AFP reporter on the scene said small arms fire and explosions could be heard from inside the UN compound, about eight kilometres from the city centre.
The front gate of the compound had been destroyed by what appeared to be a vehicle packed with explosives, he said.
The remains of the vehicle lay by the gate, with body parts — possibly those of a suicide attacker — strewn around it, the reporter said.
The attack began at 13:30 IST, he said.
Mr Henri Burgard, public information officer with the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in Herat said: "There are still two or three (attackers) who attacked on foot and the police are searching for them."
Speaking from a nearby guesthouse, Mr Burgard said that all staff on the compound at the time of the attack had evacuated to a safe bunker and there were no injuries.
"There have been either rockets or mortars fired at us and then some small arms fire," he said.
Interior ministry spokesman Mr Zemarai Bashary confirmed that an attack on the compound was underway.
"Yes, there has been an attack against the UN office in Herat," he said, adding: "Police have cordoned off the area."
The UN official who asked not to be named said there were no casualties.
"We're working closely with local police and security, and at this stage there are no casualties," he said.
Herat, Afghanistan's second biggest city, is near the border with Iran. It has until recently been relatively peaceful though the security situation has been deteriorating.
Residents say that the road to the airport is controlled after dark by criminal gangs. Some districts of the city, notably those dominated by ethnic Pashtuns, are controlled by Taliban insurgents, they say.