Taliban attacks Afghan parliament, lawmakers flee

Taliban gunmen force Afghan lawmakers to flee parliament in coordinated attack

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Taliban militants attacked Afghanistan's parliament building in the capital Kabul during its morning session on Monday, claiming their gunmen have entered the building.

Afghan officials confirmed the attack but denied that Taliban militants were inside the building. The lawmakers in the building were taken to a safe house, with some of them injured by broken glass.

Officials have said there at least one suicide bomber and several fighters conducted the coordinated attack.

Special forces have been deployed to the area and six of the attackers have been killed, police said, nearly two hours of gunfire.

"A suicide bomber blew himself up just outside the parliament building and several fighters took positions in a building close to parliament," Ebadullah Karimi, spokesman for Kabul police told Reuters.

Nineteen people - including four women - were wounded during the first explosion, the officials confirmed.

The attack came while new Defence Minister Massoom Stanekzai was in the parliament before being sworn-in, the BBC reported.

Heavy gunfire and black smoke billowing from the parliament building were reported, with images in social media showing people running for cover and ambulances racing to the scene.

"We have launched an attack on parliament as there was an important gathering to introduce the country's defence minister," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said, confirming the group was responsible for the attack.

Meanwhile, Taliban fighters captured a second district in Afghanistan’s northern province of Kunduz on Monday, where heavy fighting has been continuing since the Taliban started its spring offensive. The Dasht-e-Archi district was captured a day after the district of Chardara fell to the Taliban.

"The Taliban managed to take it over this morning as the area has been surrounded for days," Nasruddin Saeedi, the district governor who escaped to the provincial capital, Kunduz city, told Reuters by telephone.

"They are many foreign fighters with heavy machine guns. We have asked for reinforcements, but none arrived."

Chardara lies to the east of Kunduz City, forming a natural buffer zone between Afghan security forces and Taliban militants.

The streets of Kunduz City were deserted, with local administration buildings closed, residents said.

Kunduz province faces a humanitarian crisis as thousands of families are trapped by the violence.

Late in April the Taliban announced the launch of a ‘’spring offensive,’’ following the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country, in order to take advantage of the Afghan security forces’ lack of preparedness.

Heavy attacks have hit Kabul over the past several weeks, including a bomb attack on a guesthouse and another on an EU vehicle near Kabul International Airport which killed a British security contractor and two civilians.

TRTWorld and agencies