Multiple explosions and heavy gunfire rocked the Afghan parliament building in the national capital Kabul as Taliban gunmen attempted to storm inside on Monday morning. The House was in session and the new Defence Minister Massoom Stanekzai was being introduced to Members of the Parliament.
By the afternoon, the state security was able to end the siege by killing all the attackers involved in the incident.
“The attack has ended now. Seven attackers were involved – one detonated a car near the parliament building and six were killed by security forces after they entered a nearby building,” Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish told the press confirming the end of siege.
Earlier, taking responsibility for the attack, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid had written on the micro blogging site Twitter that “Several mujahideen have entered the parliament building, heavy fighting is going on. The attack happened at a time when the defence minister was being introduced”.
The claims on social networking site were made at a time when the gunmen and state security forces were exchanging heavy fire.
It all began in the morning as gunmen attempted to enter the building after detonating the bomb inside a car. The state security personnel stationed at the Parliament responded quickly that prevented the gunmen from breaching the Parliament building. But the scurrying terrorists managed to reach a nearby building from where they targeted the state security personnel with intermittent firing and explosives. The Afghan law makers, guests and other Parliament staffers were seen running for cover as gunfire and series of explosion rocked the high security building.
Two people, including one woman and a child, were killed in the attack which left 17 other wounded. However, the local authorities claimed of evacuating all the MPs safely.
“All the MPs have been safely evacuated,” Kabul police spokesman Ebadullah Karimi told the press.
“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. Afghan special forces are fighting them now,” the police spokesman had told detailing about the attack.
“In a few seconds the hall was filled with smoke and MPs began fleeing the building. The militants are still firing at the building and clashing with security forces,” an official had claimed even as the security forces were battling it out with the gunmen.
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.
Meanwhile, world leaders have condemned the attack on Afghanistan Parliament. “The attack on the Afghanistan Parliament is a despicable & cowardly act. There is no place for such attacks in a democracy,” PM Modi tweeted.
“My prayers are with those injured. We stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Afghanistan in this hour,” he said in another tweet.
This is not the first time when the Taliban had attacked Afghanistan Parliament. A group of suicide attackers had last tried to storm parliament in 2012 as they launched coordinated attacks in several parts of the capital, including several diplomatic enclaves.
(With inputs from the PTI)