Friday 13 December 2019

Americans killed during Taliban’s assault on hotel in Afghan capital

The US State Department did not give precise figures of the number of Americans killed and wounded in the Kabul attack.

Men try to flee the blazing hotel during the Taliban assault (Rahmat Gul/AP)
Men try to flee the blazing hotel during the Taliban assault (Rahmat Gul/AP)

By Josh Lederman

Multiple American citizens were killed and injured in the Taliban’s 13-hour siege of a hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, the US State Department said Tuesday.

No exact figures were immediately available for either the US fatalities or injuries. In total, 22 people were killed in the attack including 14 foreigners, Afghan officials have said. Eleven of the 14 foreigners had been previously identified as working for the private Afghan airline KamAir.

“We offer our deepest condolences to the families and friends of those who were killed and wish for the speedy recovery of those wounded,” the US State Department said. “Out of respect for the families of the deceased, we have no further comment.”

The American deaths were the latest reminder of the continuing toll paid by the United States in Afghanistan, where local forces have struggled to fight the Taliban since the US and Nato formally ended their combat mission in 2014.

A bullet hole near the scene of the attack (Rahmat Gul/AP)

President Donald Trump has pursued a plan that involves sending thousands more US troops to Afghanistan and envisions shifting away from a “time-based” approach to one that more explicitly links U.S. assistance to concrete results from the Afghan government.

Mr Trump’s UN envoy, Nikki Haley, said after a recent visit to Afghanistan that Mr Trump’s policy was working and that peace talks between the government and the Taliban are closer than ever before.

The six Taliban militants who stormed Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel on Saturday in suicide vests were looking for foreigners and Afghan officials to kill. Afghan security forces have said the standoff ended on Sunday when they killed the last of the militants.

More than 150 people were rescued or escaped during the siege, including 41 foreigners. Some hid in bathtubs or under mattresses as the attackers roamed the hotel’s hallways killing people.

It was unclear how seriously the injured Americans were wounded. In addition to the Americans killed in the attack, six Ukrainians, two Venezuelan pilots for KamAir and a citizen of Kazakhstan and a citizen of Germany were also killed, officials have said.

Word of the American deaths came as Afghan’s interior ministry said an investigation is underway to find out how the attackers got into the building so easily.

Najib Danish, spokesman for the interior ministry, said on Tuesday that security forces also defused a vehicle full of explosives near the hotel after the siege ended.

PA Media

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