Afghan security forces arrested four men after Taliban attackers disguised as police stormed Kabul's top hotel and killed seven people, including at least three foreigners, officials said Tuesday.
A US national, a Norwegian and a Filipina were among the dead after Monday's assault on the five-star Serena hotel, a hub of foreign businessmen and diplomats and home to embassies including Australia's.
The attack, one of the most brazen assaults on foreign civilians in the capital since a US-led invasion ousted the Taliban regime in 2001, raised questions about degenerating security in the heavily guarded city.
Bullets and blood were spilt across the lobby, said Roshan Khadivi, a UN employee who was in the hotel's health club changing room at the time of the attack.
“It was quite shocking. It was something you would never think would happen in the Serena, which is so well protected,” she said.
“It makes you wonder, they can go anywhere, they could target my guesthouse... it makes you wonder about the rest of the year, this is just the beginning of 2008.”
Afghan intelligence chief Amrullah Salah said the arrested suspects included an attacker who was supposed to have carried out one of multiple suicide bombings at the hotel, but “for some reason did not.”
Two other attackers carried out suicide blasts, he said.
The other detainees were a man said to have transported the militants to the hotel and supplied them with explosives and weapons, and two brothers suspected of accommodating them in the city, Salah said.
A video found at the home of one of them and shown to reporters showed two of the attackers, including the failed suicide bomber who is seen saying: “I'm ready to carry out a suicide attack.”
The same man was captured later by hotel security cameras wearing a police uniform, pointing a rifle and later opening fire.
Salah, citing intelligence reports, said the attack was planned two months ago by a Taliban-linked rebel commander in Pakistan's tribal area of North Waziristan.