Taliban parliament attack
A vehicle is seen on fire after a blast near the Afghan parliament in KabulReuters

A series of explosions and gunfire have hit the Afghan parliament in Kabul, with reports of gunmen attacking the building.

One explosion was confirmed inside the Wolesi Jirga, the lower house of parliament, forcing politicians to evacuate. A journalist from the local TOLO News said he heard three other blasts outside parliament and gunfire from inside the building.

Afghan parliament TV showed the house hall filled with dust. There was no immediate report of casualties.

Al Jazeera reported that the parliamentary speaker was at the podium to introduce the new defence minister Massoom Stanekzai to MPs when the camera's started to shake. A video from Afghan TV showed the moment the explosion rocked the house of parliament:

Ministry of Interior spokesman Sediq Sediqqi confirmed the explosions and said security forces have been deployed.

According to reports, the insurgents were positioned in a building outside the parliament compound firing RPGs.

UPDATE 7:50 A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, has claimed responsibility for the attack according to the local Ariana news.

"We have launched an attack on parliament as there was an important gathering to introduce the country's defence minister," he said.

Police confirmed to AP that Taliban were responsible for the attack, setting off four large bombs as lawmakers were meeting inside.

Prominent female MP Shukria Barekzai said: "It was a huge blast that shook the building and shattered windows. We are right now in a safe place".

Sediqqi said no lawmakers were injured in the attack.

UPDATE 8:12 Reuters reported that a Taliban suicide bomber and several gunmen took part in the attack at Kabul parliament building.

Ebadullah Karimi, spokesman for Kabul police, was quoted as saying that a suicide bomber "blew himself up just outside the parliament building and several fighters took positions in a building close to parliament".

The attack on Kabul parliament came after the Taliban capture a second district in the northern Kunduz province after clashes with security forces:

From AP:

Mohammad Yusuf Ayubi, head of the provincial council, said the insurgents attacked the district of Dashti Archi from four sides, setting off heavy fighting before seizing full control of the area. He said local forces suffered casualties but did not have a precise count.

He said around 150,000 residents of the district were unable to leave.

The Taliban confirmed that they had captured the district, as well as ammunition and four tanks, in an emailed statement.

The Taliban seized control of the Chardara district in Kunduz on Sunday. The insurgents attacked the provincial capital, also called Kunduz, in a surprise attack in April and nearly captured the city before Afghan forces pushed them back.

Afghan forces have struggled to fend off Taliban advances since the US and NATO combat mission officially concluded at the end of last year.

A video published by TOLO news showed MPs being evacuated from the lower house of parliament covered in dust after the attack:

Health Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ismail Kahousi said 18 civilians were wounded, including two women and two children.

UPDATE 8:54 Afghan police said that six Taliban gunmen who attacked parliament have been killed by security forces.

Breaking news: explosions in wolosi jerga just happened.

Posted by Sediq Amarkhil on Sunday, 21 June 2015