A Taliban suicide bomber and two gunmen targeted a foreigners' compound in Kabul early on Tuesday, killing four people in the latest fatal blast to hit the Afghan capital.

The attack started with a small, explosives-laden truck ramming the gate of the compound housing foreigners on the city's eastern outskirts soon after sunrise, said Interior Ministry spokesman Seqid Sediqqi.

Once the gate was destroyed, the gunmen attempted to break into the compound, said Sediqqi's deputy, Najib Danesh.

Two Afghan security guards were among the four people killed, said the ministry. Three civilians were also wounded in the attack.

The area has several compounds housing foreign contracting and service companies, as well as international military bases, so the precise target was not immediately clear. The Afghan government's intelligence agency also has a branch nearby.

NATO's International Security Assistance Force said that none of its personnel were hurt in the attack.

Afghan First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum visited the blast site, along with members of the Afghan army's rapid reaction force. Dostum said the bombing "is the work of intelligence services" acting in collusion with the attackers.

There has been speculation over recent high-profile attacks in Kabul that insurgent groups have infiltrated security and intelligence agencies to get access to sites inside the heavily-guarded capital.

The attack sent a plume of smoke into the sky and was heard across Kabul. Gunfire was also heard, just before the blast — from security guards firing on the truck as it approached the gate. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

In the past week, suicide bombers have targeted the chief of police — an attack also claimed by the Taliban — and a prominent female lawmaker, both of whom survived the deadly assaults.

Also Tuesday, in eastern Khost province, a woman died when the van she was travelling in hit a roadside bomb, said Mubariz Mohammad Zadran, spokesman for the provincial governor. Another 13 people, including children, were wounded.