A Taliban suicide bomber and several gunmen carried out a coordinated attack on the Afghan Parliament on Monday.
Windows near the parliament were shattered by the powerful explosion and lawmakers fled in panic. The incident happened as new Defence Minister Massoom Stanekzai was being introduced to MPs, agencies reported.
The seven attackers were killed by police after a two-hour gun battle. All lawmakers were reported to be safe. Several civilians, including two women and two children, were wounded by flying glass.
Interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said a Taliban fighter driving a car detonated a bomb outside parliament gates and six gunmen raced into the compound. However, they were pushed back by security forces to a building under construction from which the terrorists continued their battle with the police.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility.
“We have launched an attack on parliament as there was an important gathering to introduce the country’s defense minister,” he said by phone.
Lawmaker Shukria Barekzai said: “It was a huge blast that shook the building and shattered windows. We are in a safe place right now.”
The withdrawal of foreign forces and a reduction in US air strikes have allowed Taliban fighters to launch several major attacks in important Afghan provinces.
The terror strike coincided with the fall of another district to Taliban the northern province of Kunduz.
The Taliban captured Dasht-e-Archi district a day after hundreds of militants fought their way to the center of the adjacent district of Chardara.
“The Taliban managed to take it over this morning as the area has been surrounded for days,” Nasruddin Saeedi, the district governor who escaped to the provincial capital, Kunduz city, said.
“They are many foreign fighters with heavy machine guns. We have asked for reinforcements, but none arrived.”
The fall of the second district within a day underlines questions about Afghan forces’ ability to quell the Taliban.
Afghan soldiers were preparing a counterattack to retake both districts, another local official said.
Monday’s heavy fighting was just two miles from the governor’s compound.