Several dead as gunmen attack top Kabul hotel

KABUL (Reuters) – Gunmen attacked Kabul’s Intercon-tinental Hotel on Saturday, seizing hostages and exchanging gunfire with security forces as the building in the Afghan capital caught fire and residents and staff fled.

Hotel manager Ahmad Haris Nayab, who escaped unhurt, said the attackers had got into the main part of the hotel through a kitchen and people tried to get out amid bursts of gunfire.

Several people had been killed and at least six wounded in the raid, which came days after a US embassy warning of possible attacks on hotels in Kabul, Nasrat Rahimi, an interior ministry spokesman, said. However, officials gave no other details on casualty numbers.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the latest in a long series of attacks which underlined the city’s precarious situation and the ability of militants to strike blows aimed at undermining confidence in the Western-backed government.

Officials said there were as many as four attackers and at least two of them had been killed as Afghan Special Forces cleared the first floor and moved up the building, battling the raiders, who appeared to have a large supply of hand grenades.

Hours after the attack began, firing appeared to ease as security forces settled in, waiting for dawn.

According to one witness, who did not want to be named, the attackers took some hotel staff and guests hostage. He said some foreigners were among the hotel guests but it was not clear what their nationality was.

The Intercontinental Hotel, located on a hilltop and heavily protected like most public buildings in Kabul, was previously attacked by Taliban fighters in 2011.

It is one of two main luxury hotels in the city and had been due to host an information technology conference on Sunday. More than 100 IT managers and engineers were on site when the attack took place, Ahmad Waheed, an official at the telecommunications ministry, said.

The attack came days after a United Nations Security Council visit to Kabul to allow senior representatives of member states to assess the situation in Afghanistan.

Many details of the incident were still unclear, but Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said a private company had taken over security about three weeks ago.

The US embassy in Kabul had issued a warning to US

citizens on Thursday, saying, “We are aware of reports that

extremist groups may be planning an attack against hotels in

Kabul.”

Around the Web

Comments