Taliban attack Kabul hotel, 10 killed

The Inter-Continental hotel in seen in the dark as tracer bullets are shot during an attack in Kabul on June 29, 2011. Witnesses reported hearing two explosions and said that several gunmen had got into the high-security hotel late in the evening. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed the militant Islamist group was behind the attack which he said was targeting foreign guests in the hotel. PHOTO: AFP

KABUL: 

A hotel popular with Westerners in the Afghan capital has come under attack by gunmen and suicide bombers.

Kabul’s police chief told the BBC that security forces were exchanging fire with up to six assailants who had got inside the Intercontinental Hotel.  A security official said three suicide bombers had blown themselves up at the hotel’s front gate, on the second floor, and at the back of the hotel. At least 10 people are reported to have been killed.

The Intercontinental is one of Kabul’s best-known most heavily guarded hotels. It is situated on a hill on the western outskirts of the city.

Guests told the BBC’s Bilal Sarwary in Kabul that the scene was one of chaos and panic, and that they had been told not to open their doors.

One guest told the Associated Press that the attack began when many people were having dinner in the hotel’s restaurant, and that he had jumped out of a first-floor window to escape the gunmen.

“I was running with my family,” said the man, named as Jawid. “There was shooting. The restaurant was full with guests.”

Afghan officials told the BBC that a group of Afghan governors had been meeting at the hotel at the time of the attack.

The head of Kabul crime unit said fighting was still going on as police cleared the hotel after an attack claimed by the Taliban. “The clearing of the Intercontinental is still going on. It’s not over yet,” Mohammad Zahir told Reuters.Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the group was behind the attack in telephone calls to two news agencies.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 29th, 2011.

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