Six Taliban militants attacked the Afghan Parliament building on Monday, as lawmakers were considering the nomination of Masoom Stanekzai as the new defense minister. The attackers detonated a car bomb outside Parliament, stormed in, and reached a building next to the chamber before being killed in the firefight. No members of Parliament were injured, but a woman and a 10-year-old girl were killed.

The attack happened a little more than a month after the most recent round of peace talks, where Stanekzai attended secret talks with three Taliban leaders in China. Earlier in May, top Taliban representatives also held closed-door discussions with Afghan officials and civic activists in Qatar that indicated potential openness toward power-sharing solutions. The Taliban confirmed that they carried out the attack to coincide with the vote to approve the new defense minister. According to one BBC correspondent, the Taliban were “extracting maximum propaganda” by timing their attack with a parliament meeting.

This recent attack also comes in the wake of a series of Taliban offensives in different parts of the country. Taliban offensives have intensified with the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces starting in 2014. The Taliban has advanced in Helmand in the southwest and are continuing to advance in the northern Kunduz province. The U.S. needs to maintain a strong troop presence in Afghanistan to ensure that Taliban forces do not gain significant ground in the country. At present, U.S. troop levels are slated to remain at 9,800 through the end of 2015 instead of being reduced to 5,600 troops as originally planned.

This attack could be part of an effort by the Taliban to show they are still the predominant fighting force in Afghanistan in the face of ISIS competition. Lisa Curtis, senior fellow in The Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center, points out that the Islamic State is “a direct competitor for recruits, financing and ideological influence of the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda.”

At an event hosted by The Heritage Foundation where His Excellency Abdullah Abdullah, Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer, spoke, Heritage President Jim DeMint emphasized:

We are of the firm belief that the Administration should determine its withdrawal strategy based on conditions on the ground in Afghanistan, rather than on political timetables in the U.S…. It’s important that the Afghan people know the U.S. will stand with them in their fight to ensure the country never again turns into a safe haven for global terrorists. As we see the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and the potential for its deadly ideology to spread into other parts of the Middle East and even South Asia, we are reminded of the importance of supporting our allies against global terrorist threats.

According to Lisa Curtis, the brazen attack on the Afghan parliament is one more indicator that the Taliban is still committed to overthrowing the government, rather than considering dialogue potentially leading to a negotiated solution: “The Taliban calculate that a military solution could still go in its favor. Rather than pin false hopes on the extremely tentative and nascent dialogue between the Taliban and Afghan government, the U.S. must support the Afghan forces in fending off further Taliban military advances.”

Siyao Li is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.