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Taliban Claims Attack On Afghan Parliament

Smoke rises from the Afghan parliament building in Kabul on June 22.
Smoke rises from the Afghan parliament building in Kabul on June 22.

A large explosion rocked the Afghan parliament in Kabul on June 22, prompting the evacuation of lawmakers from the smoke-filled building, live television footage showed.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred as the Afghan president's nominee for the crucial post of defense minister was to be introduced in parliament.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, in a message posted on Twitter, claimed resposibility for the attack, saying, "Several mujahedin have entered the parliament building, heavy fighting is on going."

Mujahid added that the attack occurred "at a time when the defense minister was being introduced."

Officials could not immediately confirm whether Taliban fighters had breached the high-security parliament building and there were no immediate reports on casualties.

Kabul police spokesman Ebadullah Karimi said, "We have heard reports of an explosion. We are heading to the scene."

The Taliban launched a countrywide offensive in late April, increasing attacks on government and foreign targets.

The militants recently rebuffed requests from senior Afghan clerics to halt attacks during the fasting month of Ramadan.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP