The Taliban launched a complex attack on the Afghan parliament today with a suicide car bomber striking at the entrance and gunmen battling police as lawmakers were meeting inside to confirm the appointment of a defense minister, police and witnesses say. Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi says the attack began with a car bomb explosion near the entrance. Gunmen then attempted to storm the compound but were pushed back by security forces and eventually took refuge in a nearby building under construction, Sediqqi says. Officials say all MPs inside the parliament building are safe and all six attackers have been killed, the BBC reports.
A Health Ministry spokesman says 18 civilians were wounded, including two women and two children. The attack was "very dramatic" even by Afghan standards, the BBC notes, and the insurgents have also been advancing across the country's north, capturing two districts in Kunduz province in as many days. The head of the provincial council says the insurgents attacked the district of Dashti Archi from four sides, setting off heavy fighting before seizing full control of the area early today. He says local forces suffered casualties but did not have a precise count, and around 150,000 residents of the district are unable to leave. The Taliban confirmed that they had captured the district, as well as ammunition and four tanks.