At least five dead in Kabul hotel attack: officials

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KABUL : – Gunmen have killed at least five people and wounded eight others in an ongoing attack on Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel, officials said Sunday, as panicked guests were seen climbing over balconies to escape.

More than eleven hours after the assault began Afghan security forces were still clearing the hotel, with at least one of the four gunmen on the loose, a security source said.

“Five Afghans are dead,” interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish told reporters near the hotel, adding 100 hostages, including 16 foreigners, had been released.

At least two of the attackers have been killed, Danish said.

Several people could be seen climbing over a top-floor balcony using bedsheets to escape, with one losing his grip and plunging to the ground.

Four gunmen burst into the hotel on Saturday night, opening fire on guests and staff and taking dozens of people hostage.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the latest assault in the war-torn Afghan capital, which followed a series of security warnings in recent days to avoid hotels and other locations frequented by foreigners.

It was not clear how many people were still inside the hotel, which was attacked by Taliban militants in 2011.

During the night special forces were lowered by helicopters onto the roof of the landmark hotel, interior ministry deputy spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told AFP earlier.

A guest hiding in a room told AFP he could hear gunfire inside the 1960s hotel where dozens of people attending an information technology conference on Sunday were staying.

“I don’t know if the attackers are inside the hotel but I can hear gunfire from somewhere near the first floor,” the man, who did not want to be named, said by telephone.

“We are hiding in our rooms. I beg the security forces to rescue us as soon as possible before they reach and kill us.”

His phone was switched off when AFP tried to contact him again.

2018-01-21

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