Taliban attack Afghan parliament building as lawmakers flee

Taliban attackers struck the Afghan parliament building in Kabul on Monday, forcing government officials to evacuate as explosions and gunfire sounded.

Witnesses said several gunmen attempted to storm the building after the initial explosion, which came as Sarwar Danesh, second vice president, was entering the building to introduce a nominee for minister of defense, Masoom Stanekzai, for a vote of confidence by lawmakers.

Taliban claims attack that killed at least 17 Afghan police officers
Residents near the parliament said they heard at least five large explosions, blasts from 20 grenades and gunfire. Video broadcast on local media showed lawmakers evacuating.

Abdul Rahman Rahimi, Kabul police chief, confirmed the first explosion was a car bomb outside the parliament building. He said seven assailants were killed by security forces but that all lawmakers were safe.

A woman and a child were killed in the attack, the United Nations mission in Afghanistan said.

At least 40 people were reportedly injured and being treated at Kabul hospitals.

President Ashraf Ghani condemned the attackers as “criminals who fail to obey the [country’s] laws or Islam.”
Sediq Sediqqi, the Interior Ministry spokesman, said gunmen attempting to storm the compound following the car bombing were pushed back by security forces.

The surviving Taliban fighters were forced to take refuge in a nearby building that was under construction, officials said, and police surrounded the structure.

Officials said the attack was over about two hours after it began, and the area was cordoned off by members of the Afghan National Security Forces.

Previously, the parliament was attacked in April 2012, when the Taliban claimed responsibility for assaults on seven sites across three cities.

The attack on Monday, for which the Taliban claimed responsibility in a statement, came as the insurgent group continued an offensive in the northern provinces of Kunduz. Two districts in the province have reportedly fallen into Taliban hands in the last two days.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.latimes.com

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