Survivors of Taliban attack on Kabul hotel recount ordeal

Survivors of Taliban attack on Kabul hotel recount ordeal

Kerry Wise
January 23, 2018

A group claiming to represent the Afghan Taliban said the hotel attack killed and wounded "dozens" (20 or 30) of "foreign occupiers", including U.S. Special Forces, commandos and intelligence officers.

The attack happened at the Intercontinental Hotel on Saturday and developed into a 13-hour overnight siege.

"We express our honest condolences to the families of those killed in this heinous attack and wish speedy recovery to the injured", the ministry said in a statement.

Black smoke rises from the Intercontinental Hotel after an attack in Kabul. The latest assault, this time on one of the city's major landmarks, the Intercontinental Hotel, has come within days of a rare and significant admission by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that his country's national army could not last more than six months without global coalition support.

A hotel employee told AFP that as he fled the staff living quarters in a building next to the hotel he saw the new security guards running for their lives.

South Korea on Monday delivered its condolences to the Afghan people for a recent deadly assault on a hotel in Kabul and vowed support for Afghanistan's efforts to establish peace. The Taliban claimed credit for the attack.

The interior ministry quoting the spy agency, National Directorate of Security, said the attack was planned by the Haqqani Network.

During the siege, terrified guests trapped at the top of the building tied bedsheets together and climbed over balconies to escape.

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Spokesperson of the Kazakh Foreign Ministry Anuar Zhainakov confirmed that a Kazakh citizen was among the dead.

Authorities warned they were still investigating how militants breached security, which was taken over by a private company three weeks ago, at the landmark Intercontinental Hotel late Saturday.

The ministry said 153 people - including 41 foreigners - were rescued from the hotel.

Attackers had a large supply of hand grenade which caused a fire in the kitchen and thus hotel caught fire. Insurgents have also attacked the heavily fortified Serena Hotel in central Kabul.

"The attack is reported to be ongoing at this time".

Several armoured USA military vehicles with heavy machineguns could be seen close to the hotel along with Afghan police units as Special Forces manoeuvred around the site. The hotel has been attacked before; a 2011 incident killed 18 people, including all seven assailants.

The relative said that family members do not yet know how they can repatriate the bodies because the Venezuelan government has no consulate in Afghanistan's capital.