At least four attackers stormed the headquarters of the Kabul Traffic Police and took up positions to fire on the Afghan Border Police, the Stars and Stripes reported.
Dozens of explosions from rocket-propelled grenades, a car bomb, suicide vests detonated by two attackers and automatic weapons fire followed, the Ministry of Interior said.
Afghan commandos were seen running along rooftops and witnesses reported seeing Norwegian special forces troops.
The International Security Assistance Force said some of its troops were involved in the fighting but no coalition forces were wounded or killed.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid confirmed that four Taliban fighters were killed but gave much higher casualty figures for the security forces, saying 24 were killed and 31 injured.
The four-story police headquarters building is close to the country's Parliament, the BBC reported.
Last week, a group attacked Afghanistan's spy agency, killing four guards.
Violence by militants has escalated while NATO and U.S. forces prepare to end their combat operations in Afghanistan by 2014, observers say.