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Taliban stormed parliament; bid to confirm defense minister disrupted

Abdul Zuhoor Qayomi-KABUL: The Taliban assaulted the Parliament on Monday just as parliamentarians were convening for their third attempt to cast their vote of confidence for a defense minister. A suicide bomber exploded himself up behind the gate of the Parliament when Masoom Stanikzai, was going to be officially introduced to the lawmakers for vote of confidence by the Second Vice President Sarwar Danish. Security forces prevented the attackers to enter into the Parliament.

The incident happened when members of the parliament (MPs) were discussing deteriorating security situation across the country particularly in the north as two districts have fallen to the Taliban control in northern Kunduz province. Speaker of the Wolesi Jirga or Lower House of the Parliament, Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi told lawmakers there was no need for panic as it was just a blast of power transformer. Later on the parliamentarians and newsmen were taken to safety whereas some of them have received minor injuries.

Shekiba Hashemi, a MP from Kandahar province told Afghanistan Times that she along with her colleagues was shifted to a safer place and no one was hurt.

Kabul Police spokesman Ebadullah Karemi told Afghanistan Times that six attackers who wanted to enter the Parliament were immediately killed by the security forces. The weapons depot was exploded in the incidence said Karemi. He said one woman and one child were killed. He added that nine women and children were among the 28 civilians who received injuries. Responding to a query the spokesman said no troops have been killed. The country has been without a confirmed defense minister as an acting minister is running the defense ministry.

Since the National Unity Government was inaugurated last September. Mr. Stanekzai was Ghani’s (the President) third choice for the vital post. Ghani’s earlier candidates failed to survive vote of confidence from the Parliament.

The term of the Parliament expired Sunday however Ghani extended its term in office until new polls are held. The move has sparked debate over the legality of the extension of the Parliamentarians’ term.

The Taliban took responsibility for the attack. Moreover, security situation has been deteriorating across the country particularly in the northern parts, which were relatively peaceful in the past. A second district in Kunduz province has fallen to the Talban control. The seizure of the Archi district by the Taliban has deepened concerns in Kabul.

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