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Taliban gunmen explode several bombs in Afghan Parliament in Kabul (VIDEO)

Taliban gunmen explode several bombs in Afghan Parliament in Kabul (VIDEO)
Loud explosions and gunfire have been heard in the parliament building in the Afghan capital, Kabul. Gunmen have stormed the lower house of parliament, with several blasts going off inside and in front of the building.

A Taliban spokesman has claimed responsibility for the attack on the parliament.

“We have launched an attack on parliament as there was an important gathering to introduce the country's defense minister,” Reuters cited Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid as saying by telephone.

Afghan security forces have killed six of the Taliban gunmen who attacked the parliament, police said.

According to Kabul police spokesman Ebadullah Karimi, one Taliban fighter blew himself up in a car stuffed with explosives just outside the gates of the parliament compound, while six others took up positions nearby. All of them were killed in the two-hour firefight, while the attack left 21 people wounded, including four women, the police spokesman said.

Karimi confirmed that all the Afghan MPs and journalists were securely evacuated.

Lawmakers have criticized security agencies for not preventing the attack.

“It shows a big failure in the intelligence and security departments of the government,” MP Farhad Sediqi said.

Afghan MP Harif Rahmani, who was inside the lower house of parliament at time of the explosions, said no MPs were injured seriously.

The firefight between the militants and the parliament security force continued for more than 20 minutes before additional security forces came to their rescue, Rahmani told TOLOnews.

Rahmani also said that the parliament had been warned about a possible attack a few days ago.

The attack on Afghanistan’s symbolic center of power is the most brazen in the 13 years of the US-led occupation of the country.

Explosion outside the parliament in #Kabul#Afghanistanhttps://t.co/32YhicEOq7#BREAKINGpic.twitter.com/ez3jo1PG5A

— Mete Sohtaoğlu (@metesohtaoglu) June 22, 2015

another pic via @KarimAmini1pic.twitter.com/a59A8ECzol of inside of Afghan Parliament in Kabul, right at moment of attack

— Khalid Khan™ (@khalidkhan787) June 22, 2015

Local journalists say six explosions in total have been heard.

"Right now, the parliament is empty and full of smoke," Al Jazeera's Jennifer Glasse reported. TOLOnews journalist Saleha Soadat reports that explosion in the lower house was detonated as the second vice president entered to introduce the nominee for defense ministry. An unknown number of MPs have reportedly sustained shrapnel injuries, the agency said. Television was broadcasting live from the parliament when the blast struck and lawmakers were seen leaving the premises.

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The attack on the lower house of parliament in Kabul comes amid reports that the Taliban has seized part of the Kunduz province in the north of the country, on the border with Tajikistan.

“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.

“They are many foreign fighters with heavy machine guns. We have asked for reinforcements, but none arrived,” he said.

Following heavy clashes with law enforcement on Sunday night, Taliban seized security checkpoints around the district, Abdul Jalil, a resident of the district, told Pajhwok Afghan News. On their website, Taliban militants claimed they had seized 14 police posts. Dasht-i-Archi is the second district to fall to Taliban control in the last week, after Chahardara district of the same province was seized by militants last Saturday.