The Taliban attacked Afghanistan’s parliament building on Monday morning with guns and explosive devices, sending members of the parliament running for cover. All MPs were evacuated safely, as the attackers’ plan to storm the building was repelled by security forces. Monday’s parliament session was well attended because its agenda was to include the announcement of President Ashraf Ghani’s nominee for the important post of defence minister. All seven militants, including a suicide car bomber, were reportedly killed in the police operation that followed.
While there were no civilian casualties, Al Jazeera reported that 21 people, including five women and three children were injured in the attack. After triggering a car bomb that shook the parliament building, the attackers took up positions in a partially constructed building nearby, before firing on the Afghan special forces and police who took them on. Three policemen were also hurt in the fighting.
MP Mohammad Reza Khoshak, who was in the parliament at the time, described the moment of the attack to AFP saying,
“The session was on and we were waiting for the defence minister nominee… Suddenly we heard 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.”
The assault on Parliament is part of the Taliban’s summer offensive against the Afghanistan government, including attacks in the southern Helmand province, and the seizure of certain districts in the northern Kunduz province. Recently they had refused the request of senior Afghani clerics for a ceasefire during the holy month of Ramazan.
The Taliban quickly took responsibility for the attack, with spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid tweeting about the incident. “Several mujahideen have entered the parliament building, heavy fighting is on-going. The attack happened at a time when the defence minister was being introduced,” the AFP reported him as saying.
The Afghanistan police have maintained that the attackers failed to breach the high-security parliament building.