Audacious Taliban attack on Afghan Parliament kills two
The attack came as the Afghan president’s nominee for the crucial post of defence minister was to be introduced in parliament and ended two hours later when all seven attackers, including a suicide car bomber, were dead.
The assault on such a high-profile target in downtown Kabul raises fresh questions about security as Afghan forces battle a resurgent Taliban for the first time without the aid of NATO forces, who ended their combat mission in December.
“First a car bomb detonated on the main road near the parliament building, then a group of attackers entered a building in front of parliament,” Kabul police spokesman <g data-gr-id="34" style="display: inline; color: inherit !important; font-size: inherit !important; -webkit-background-size: 0px 2px, 100% 2px; border-bottom-width: 1px; border-bottom-style: solid; border-bottom-color: transparent; background-image: url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAA+gAAAACCAYAAADLlPadAAAABmJLR0QA/wD/AP+gvaeTAAAAK0lEQVRYhe3OMQEAIAwDsA6DHPh/ZoTJ2JMoSPW7PwAAAMCqsx0AAAAAkgHerQKHq3BtYQAAAABJRU5ErkJggg==), url(data:image/png;base64,iVBORw0KGgoAAAANSUhEUgAAAAEAAAACCAYAAACZgbYnAAAABmJLR0QA/wD/AP+gvaeTAAAAEklEQVQImWP4vGvnfyYGBgYGABl4A2hm/SKhAAAAAElFTkSuQmCC); background-size: 0px 2px, 100% 2px; background-position: 200% 100%, 0px 100%; background-repeat: no-repeat, no-repeat;">Ebadullah</g> Karimi told AFP. Two civilians, a woman and a child, were killed in the attack, according to police and the United Nations.
Deputy interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said there were seven attackers and the health ministry reported 31 people, including five women and a child, wounded.
Dramatic television footage of the moment the first explosion struck showed pandemonium and screams inside parliament, with Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi sitting in his chair, calmly telling lawmakers “it’s an electrical issue”. MP Mohammad Reza Khoshak, who was in the chamber at the time, described hearing “a loud explosion, followed by several other smaller explosions”.
“In a few seconds the hall was filled with smoke and MPs began fleeing the building,” he said.
The Taliban launched a countrywide offensive in late April, stepping up attacks on government and
foreign targets in what is expected to be the bloodiest fighting season in a decade.
The militants recently rebuffed requests from senior Afghan clerics to halt attacks during the fasting month of Ramadan even as a surge in violence has sent civilian casualties soaring.
A group of suicide attackers last tried to storm parliament in 2012 as they launched coordinated attacks in several parts of Kabul, including several diplomatic enclaves. The Taliban, toppled from power in the 2001 US invasion of Afghanistan, swiftly claimed responsibility for the latest attack.