Kabul: A Taliban suicide bomber and gunmen attacked the Afghan parliament on Monday, shattering windows, wounding at least 19 people and sending a plume of black smoke across Kabul, as a second district in two days fell to the Islamist group in the north.
Violence has spiralled in Afghanistan since the departure of most foreign forces at the end of last year as the insurgents push to take territory more than 13 years after the US led military intervention that toppled the Taliban from power.
A series of Taliban gains, and Monday’s attack on the symbolic centre of power, have raised questions about the NATO-trained Afghan security forces’ ability to cope. Four women were among the 19 wounded, said Sayed Kabir Amiri, a health official who coordinates Kabul hospitals.
Militant attacks in Kabul have risen in the past two months after a lull at the beginning of the year. The city of 3.5 million has never fully stabilised since a US led war ousted the hardline Islamist Taliban regime in 2001.
12:45 IST Monday, 22 June 2015
Taliban take hold of 2nd district in northern Afghanistan
The second district to fall to the Taliban on Monday was in the northern province of Kunduz.
The Taliban captured Dasht-e-Archi district a day after hundreds of militants fought their way to the centre 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, told Reuters by telephone.
Mohammad Yusuf Ayubi, head of the provincial council, said the insurgents attacked the district of Dashti Archi from four sides. He said around 150,000 residents of the district were unable to leave.
12:42 IST Monday, 22 June 2015
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Six explosions reported in nearby area.
12:14 IST Monday, 22 June 2015
“Several mujahideen have entered the parliament building, heavy fighting is on going,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid posted on Twitter.
“The attack happened at a time when the defence minister was being introduced,” he added.
12:10 IST Monday, 22 June 2015
“It was a huge blast that shook the building and shattered windows. We are right now in a safe place,” said lawmaker Shukria Barekzai.
(With agency inputs)