The Afghan Army and security forces were able to repel a morning assault against the nation's parliament complex by Taliban soldiers on Monday which began with a truck bomb followed by an attempt by gunmen to storm the main building where lawmakers were in session.
Early reports indicate that no members of the Afghanistan Parliament were injured in the attack, though several civilian deaths and dozens of injuries associated with the violence were noted by officials at the scene.
Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told the Associated Press that the fighters who attempted to shoot their way into the main building were pushed back by security forces and eventually corralled into a nearby building that was under construction. Sediqqi later said all seven attackers were killed by security forces. "It is over now," he announced.
The incident occurs in the context of a wider summer offensive by the Taliban which has recently been staging attacks and gaining ground in northern provinces and elsewhere.
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According to Reuters:
The brazen assault on the symbolic center of power, along with territorial gains elsewhere, highlight how NATO-trained Afghan security forces are struggling to cope with worsening militant violence.
Fighting has spiraled since the departure of most foreign forces from Afghanistan at the end of last year. The insurgents are pushing to take territory more than 13 years after U.S.-led military intervention toppled them from power.
And the Guardian, as part of its coverage, offered this roundup of the events of the morning:
- A woman and child were killed and 40 civilians were injured in a brazen bomb and gun attack on the Afghan parliament in Kabul. A suicide car bomber and six gunmen were also killed in the attack.
- MPs were evacuated to safety amid chaotic scenes. The speaker of the Parliament, Abdul Rauf Ibrahim, managed to continue talking during the blast in moment of calm under fire captured live on TV.
- The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. A spokesman said it was timed to coincide with the appearance in parliament of Afghanistan’s new defence minister Mohammad Masoom Stanekzai.
- The attack was swiftly condemned by the UN and the prime ministers of both India and Pakistan. The UN said it was an affront to democracy.
- The attack raises new questions over Afghanistan ability to maintain security without Nato’s help. Over the weekend Taliban forces took control of Chardara district in Kunduz. The continued insurgency also suggests divisions within the Taliban as it occurred soon after some senior Taliban figures entered talks in Qatar.