Sunday 25 June 2017

Taliban kills 10 in suicide bomb attack inside hotel

Smoke and flames light up the night from a blaze at the Intercontinental hotel after the Taliban attack. Photo: Getty Images
Smoke and flames light up the night from a blaze at the Intercontinental hotel after the Taliban attack. Photo: Getty Images

Hamid Shalizi in Kabul

AT least 10 people were reported to have been killed last night when suicide bombers attacked a Western-style hotel in Kabul.

Up to seven Taliban fighters, including suicide bombers, attacked the hotel often frequented by Westerners in Afghanistan's capital late last night, a senior police officer said, before NATO helicopters killed the last three insurgents in a final rooftop battle.

Witnesses heard seven blasts over about two hours, with intermittent bursts of gunfire heard during the late-night attack on the Intercontinental Hotel -- one of two main hotels used by foreigners in Kabul.

Mohammad Zahir, the head of the Kabul police crime unit, said three police officers had been wounded as they cleared the hotel on the city's western outskirts.

"The clearing of the Intercontinental is still going on. It's not over yet," Mr Zahir said

The attack came the night before the start of a conference about the gradual transition of civil and military responsibility from foreign forces to Afghans. The hotel was not one of the venues to be used by the conference or its delegates.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said several fighters from the Islamist group had attacked the hotel.

Mujahid said heavy casualties had been inflicted.

The Taliban often exaggerate the number of casualties in attacks against Western and Afghan government targets.

GUNFIRE

One blast was heard at the start of the attack and then three more at least an hour later, one witness said. Bursts of gunfire were heard over the same period and flares lit up the sky over the hotel.

Television footage showed police firing tracer rounds into the air as other officers moved through the hotel.

Power was cut in the hotel in the hotel and in surrounding areas after the attack.

A police source said that a wedding party was under way when the attack happened.

Police threw up roadblocks immediately after the blast, stopping people from approaching the area.

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