A Taliban suicide bomber and at least six gunmen attacked the Afghan parliament as lawmakers voted to endorse a new defense minister. “A woman and a 10-year-old girl were killed and 31 civilians were injured,” reports USA TODAY. Some news outlets report that seven gunmen were involved in the assault while others say six.
The Taliban reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was meant to coincide with parliament’s vote on a new defense minister, Masoom Stanikzai.
Quoting Ebadullah Karimi, a spokesman for Kabul police, Reuters reports that “a Taliban fighter detonated a car loaded with explosives outside parliament gates… raising questions about how the driver got through several security checkpoints.”
“Six gunmen took up positions in a building near parliament,” added Karimi, “but never breached the compound’s gates.”
The gunmen fired “rockets and AK-47 machine guns,” according to CNN. However, Afghan security forces managed to repel the attack.
Sediq Seddiqi, the spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, reportedly said that all gunmen were killed in the firefight and no members of parliament (MPs) had been injured.
“The audacious assault came as the Taliban captured two districts in as many days in the country’s north, displaying their ability to operate on multiple fronts,” notes The Associated Press (AP).
“They have made substantial gains recently in Helmand in the south-west, and have been advancing across the north of the country, capturing two districts of the Kunduz province in recent days,” explains BBC.
Taliban violence has increased in Afghanistan since the withdrawal of the majority of U.S.-led foreign troops at the end of last year, when America and NATO declared the end to their combat mission there.
“Afghan forces have struggled to fight off the Taliban since the U.S. and NATO combat mission officially concluded at the end of last year,” reports AP. “More than 2,300 Afghan soldiers, police and pro-government fighters have been killed since the start of the year — more than the total number of U.S. troops killed since the 2001 invasion that ended Taliban rule.”
The U.S.-led forces ended their combat mission during the deadliest year for Afghan civilians and the country’s security troops.
Taliban terrorists “are pushing to take territory more than 13 years after U.S.-led military intervention toppled them from power,” notes Reuters.