A teenage suicide bomber has struck outside NATO headquarters in Kabul, killing six people, including child hawkers, as Afghanistan marked a public holiday.

Officials said the attack took place as government dignitaries assembled in the capital to commemorate 11 years since the death of Ahmad Shah Massoud, an iconic anti-Taliban commander two days before 9/11.

The blast reverberated on Saturday through Kabul’s diplomatic quarter, which is home to many Western embassies, shortly after First Vice-President Mohammad Qasim Fahim finished an address to scores of dignitaries at an event mourning Massoud.

Afghan security forces sealed off the bomb site in front of NATO headquarters and close to the Italian embassy, an AFP reporter said.

“It was a suicide attack that killed six people and wounded five others,” interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said.

A senior police official, speaking off the record, gave the same death toll.

“It was a suicide bombing carried out by a young boy,” he said.

“So far there are six dead and five wounded. Most of the victims are young children who gather around ISAF (NATO’s US-led International Security Assistance Force) to sell small items to soldiers leaving or getting into the base.”

The Kabul police chief, General Ayub Salangi, confirmed four deaths.

“A 16-year-old boy, on foot, blew himself up, killing four and wounding two, all civilians,” he said.

“There are some children among the dead and wounded.”

An ISAF spokesman confirmed only a blast and said there had been no damage to its headquarters or military casualties.

“We’re aware of a blast that occurred just outside the ISAF headquarters in Kabul this morning,” US Army Major Adam Wojack told AFP.

“There are no ISAF casualties. The ISAF compound is secure.”