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30 killed in Kabul hotel as guests flee terrorist siege

23 January 2018

Abdulhaq Omeri, a reporter for Afghanistan's TOLO news channel, said seven people were killed in front of him.

Four gunmen stormed the heavily-guarded hotel located on a hilltop in the Bagh-e Bala area late on Saturday setting off a gun battle with security forces that continued into Sunday morning.

Afghan government forces ended an overnight siege Sunday at Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul that resulted in multiple deaths and injuries, including 14 foreign nationals.

Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish says six other civilians are reported to be wounded and more than 100 people, including 16 foreigners, have been rescued from the hotel.

CNN reported the attackers were affiliated with the Pakistan-based Haqqani network, but Pakistan's ministry of foreign affairs publicly condemned the attack.

The U.S. State Department had warned last week of a possible attack by extremist groups targeting Kabul hotels. The Taliban often inflates its casualty claims. "I hid behind a pillar and I saw people who were enjoying themselves a second ago screaming and fleeing like insane, and some of them falling down, hit by bullets", Tayeb told AFP.

It was the second time that the 200-room hotel had been the site of carnage: In 2011, an attack by insurgents left 21 dead there.

In 2001, then-US Ambassador Ryan Crocker accused the Haqqani network of a daylong attack against the US Embassy in Kabul.

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Nasrat Rahimi, deputy spokesman of Afghan Special Forces, confirms they are trying to keep the attackers engage.

Ukrainian foreign ministry official Vasyl Kyrylych confirmed that one of its citizens was among the dead and said the Ukrainian consul was flying to Kabul.

"Everything became chaotic in a moment". They include a bomb at a Shia cultural centre last month that killed more than 40 people.

Even in a country long inured to violence, the attack by five gunmen dressed in army uniforms has caused shock, with questions raised about how they were able to penetrate security at one of the most prominent landmarks in the capital.

"Suddenly (militants) attacked the dinner gathering". Witnesses said the militants were targeting foreigners staying at the hotel. Ten people, including four civilians, were injured. "'Shoot and kill them all, ' one of them shouted", Naseri said. Gunmen armed with rocket-propelled grenades and smaller weapons entered the hotel at approximately 9pm local time on Saturday night and took numerous guests hostage.

"We will investigate it", he said. "They were saying kill the foreigners", he told AFP.

"They didn't do anything, they didn't attack".

"They were wearing very stylish clothes", he said.

30 killed in Kabul hotel as guests flee terrorist siege