Taliban militants fired explosives into Afghanistan’s Parliament compound on Monday as the top intelligence official and caretaker minister of interior were due to speak, lawmakers and the insurgents said.
Lawmakers said no one was reported wounded. But Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack and said it caused heavy casualties.
The Taliban often claim responsibility for attacks and have been known to exaggerate fatality figures.
“Three rockets were fired at the parliament but they did not hit the main building,” said Safiullah Muslim, a lawmaker from Badakhshan province. “It happened when the session was ongoing.”
There were conflicting reports as to whether the explosions were caused by long-range rocket artillery or shoulder-fired rocket-propelled grenades.
The violence comes a day after a suicide bomb blast in Lahore killed 72 people. A faction of the Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which targeted Christians.
The new Parliament building was completed by India in 2015 as a mark of friendship and cooperation to help rebuild Afghanistan, and was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last December.
The foundation stone for it was laid in August 2005 by the last king of Afghanistan, Zahir Shah, in the presence of President Hamid Karzai and then Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.
India’s Central Public Works Department was the consultant for the project and the contract was awarded to an Indian infrastructure company in 2008.
This is the second major attack targeting the complex in a year. On June 23, 2015, seven Taliban militants carried out a brazen offensive on the Parliament, triggering massive explosions and gunfire that killed two civilians and injured 31 people. Security forces ultimately gunned down the militants.
The new building is corralled in an 84-acre plot on the outskirts of Kabul and fringes historical landmarks such as Amanullah Khan’s Palace and the Queen’s Palace.
(with agency inputs)