Taliban suicide bomber, gunmen attack parliament in Kabul

A Taliban suicide bomber and several gunmen have attacked the Afghan parliament in Kabul, killing a woman and child and wounding at least 30 people.

The brazen attack on the symbolic centre of power raises questions about the NATO-trained Afghan security forces' ability to cope with militant attacks.

The attack began when a Taliban fighter driving a car loaded with explosives blew up outside the parliament's gates, Kabul police spokesman Ebadullah Karimi said.

Six gunmen who took up positions in a building near parliament were killed after a gun battle lasting nearly two hours, Mr Karimi said.

"The first explosion was a car bomb outside the parliament," Sune Engel Rasmussen, a journalist in Kabul, told ABC News 24.

"[The gunmen] didn't make it inside [the parliament]. They proceeded to attack the parliament building with RPGs, rockets, and a lot of gunfire from a construction site nearby, from an empty building where they could hide behind scaffolding."

Officials said a woman and a child were killed and around 30 civilians wounded in the attack.

Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi said all MPs were safe.

The raid was carried out at the same time the Afghan president's nominee for the crucial post of defence minister was being introduced to parliament.

TV pictures showed the speaker sitting calmly and MPs leaving the building, engulfed in dust and smoke.

The incident raises questions about how the driver got through several security checkpoints.

Violence has spiralled in Afghanistan since the departure of most foreign forces at the end of last year.

The insurgents are pushing to take territory more than 13 years after the US-led military intervention that toppled the Taliban from power.