Kabul, April 15: Unfazed by the brazen attempt by heavily-armed Taliban gunmen to storm Parliament today, MPs were not found wanting and they joined security forces in firing on the militants.
Parliament was in session when the gunmen targeted it in the deadly wave of attacks in Kabul and three other eastern cities.
Mohammad Naeem Lalai, an MP, was quoted as having said that some lawmakers including him and his bodyguards fought the militants who had seized a six-storey building in front of Parliament. The gunmen stopped firing at Parliament after a brief while after beiing engaged by security forces.
The United States embassy in Kabul was meanwhile in lockdown as explosions and gunfire rocked the capital. All staff were accounted for and safe, with no reports of injuries, spokesman Gavin Sundwall said.
Taliban meanwhile said the wave of attacks marked the start of the rebels' “spring offensive.” According to Zabihullah Mujahed, the Taliban spokesman, the attacks were also a message to the Kabul government and its Western military backers “who believed we will not launch a spring offensive.”
“The Kabul administration and the invading forces had said some time ago that the Taliban will not be able to launch a spring offensive. Today's attacks were the start of our spring offensive,” he was quoted as having said from an undisclosed location.
Another MP Mohammad Nahim Lalai Hamidzai, a lawmaker from Kandahar, said he climbed the tower of the parliament building and fired on a building under construction from which militants were shooting at the parliament.
“I shot up to 400 or 500 bullets from my Kalashnikov at the attackers,” Hamidzai said.
“They fired two rocket-propelled grenades at the parliament. The fight was around the parliament, the Russian Embassy and Vice President (Mohammed Karim) Khalili's house.”