By OKECHUKWU PEACE, with Agency Reports
While the lawmakers met to consider a new defense minister, Taliban terrorist again struck as a Taliban suicide bomber and six gunmen attacked the Afghan parliament on Monday, reuters reported.
By the time the dust hard settle, another district in the volatile north fell to the militants as they intensified a summer offensive.
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.
Monday’s heavy fighting was just three km (two miles) from the provincial governor’s compound.
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.
Monday’s attack, in which at least 19 people were wounded, began as lawmakers met with the new acting defense minister, Masoom Stanikzai, the third candidate so far for the key security post whose appointment must be confirmed by parliament.
A Taliban fighter detonated a car loaded with explosives outside parliament gates, said Ebadullah Karimi, spokesman for Kabul police, raising questions about how the driver got through several security checkpoints.
Six gunmen took up positions in a building near parliament, he said, but never breached the compound’s gates. Security forces killed the six after a gun battle lasting nearly two hours.
Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi said all lawmakers were safe. TV pictures showed the speaker sitting calmly and legislators leaving the building, engulfed in dust and smoke, without panicking.
Four women were among the 19 people wounded, said Sayed Kabir Amiri, a health official who coordinates Kabul hospitals.
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, referring to Stanikzai.
Farhad Sediqi was one of several lawmakers who criticized security agencies for not preventing the attack.
“It shows a big failure in the intelligence and security departments of the government,” he said.