Taliban try to attack Afghan Parliament, wounding dozens of civilians

Taliban militants detonated explosives and fired rockets in an attempted attack Monday on the Afghan Parliament that wounded dozens of civilians and startled lawmakers. A large car bomb exploded near the outer wall of the parliament compound, sending a thick plume of smoke into the sky. Six Taliban fighters then tried to storm inside, said police spokesman Ebadullah Karimi. Afghan security forces managed to fend off the attackers, who then moved into nearby building, firing rockets and AK-47 machine guns. All six attackers were killed in the ensuing firefight, Karimi said. Inside the parliament building, lawmakers were gathered in the meeting hall when the first explosion struck, Arif Rahmani, a member of parliament, told CNN. The blast shattered glass and shook loose a layer of the ceiling that filled the hall with a cloud of dust, he said. The members of parliament had assembled for a general meeting at which Mohammad Masoom Stanikzai, the government's nominee for defense minister, was to be introduced in order to present his plans and policies ahead of a confidence vote. All the lawmakers were evacuated from the parliament building unharmed, according to Karimi. But at least 31 civilians were wounded in the attack, including three children, said Dr. Kabir Amiri, head of Kabul Central Hospitals. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said on his Twitter account that the militant group chose to target the parliament on the day the defense minister was to be introduced to lawmakers. The U.N. mission in Afghanistan condemned the attack, calling it "a clear and deliberate affront to democracy in Afghanistan." Monday's assault is the latest in a string of high-profile attacks by insurgents in the Afghan capital. Recent targets have included hotels housing foreigners. More broadly, Afghan forces are grappling with a Taliban offensive across different parts of the country. American-led international troops pulled out of Afghanistan last year. News Courtesy: www.cnn.com