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Kabul hotel attack Highlights: 18 including 14 foreigners killed in siege, Taliban claims responsibility

Gunmen dressed in army uniforms stormed Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel and battled Afghan Special Forces in an overnight siege that left at least 18 people dead. Here are the highlights.

world Updated: Jan 21, 2018 20:43 IST
Agencies
Agencies
Kabul
Kabul‬,‪Afghanistan‬,Kabul attack
Smoke rises from the Intercontinental Hotel during an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan January 21, 2018. (REUTERS)

Gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in Kabul and killed at least six people including a foreigner, sparking a 17-hour battle that left terrified guests scrambling to escape and parts of the building ablaze.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on the six-storey Intercontinental Hotel on a hilltop overlooking the Afghan capital.

Interior ministry spokesperson Najib Danish claimed that Afghan Special Forces ended an overnight siege at Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel on Sunday, killing the last surviving attacker.

The siege harks back to the Mumbai attacks on November 26, 2008 when six militants stormed the Taj Mahal Palace hotel and killed at least 30 people over three days.

Here are the highlights:

7.50pm: Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry says 4 Afghans and 14 foreigners were killed in the Kabul Intercontinental Hotel siege.

5:27pm: Spokesman Najib Danish says the weapons used in the hotel attack by the six insurgents were Kalashnikovs and hand grenades.

5:25pm: Interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish says the final casualty toll in the 17-hour Taliban siege at the Intercontinental Hotel has not yet been determined.

5:22pm: The security of the Intercontinental Hotel was handed over to a private company only 21 days ago, says interior ministry spokesman.

5:20pm: The last two attackers were killed by special forces on the 6th floor of the hotel, says the interior ministry spokesman.

5:20pm: Early investigations show six insurgents entered the Intercontinental Hotel from the northern side and stormed the kitchen, says interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish at a press conference.

3:55pm: US ambassador in Kabul John R Bass condemns the Kabul hotel attack. In a statement, the US envoy said, “Such violence has no place here or anywhere in the world. The US Embassy is in close contact with Afghan authorities, who are continuing to investigate the incident.”

3:45pm: Chief Executive Abdulalh Abdullah condemns Kabul attack, says, “I commend the Afghan Forces for their bravery and professional action of rescuing over 100 civilians and killing all terrorists in the insane attack on Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. I condemn the attack and condole with the victim families.”

3:15pm: “Five Afghans and one foreigner have been killed,” interior ministry deputy spokesperson Nasrat Rahimi told AFP today, adding around 150 people were rescued, including more than 40 foreigners.

2:59pm: President Ashraf Ghani condemns Kabul attack, calls for international consensus against countries that support and harbor terrorists. Ghani assigns a team to probe the incident, Afghan media quoting Presidential Palace.

2:30pm: Taliban claim responsibility for Kabul hotel attack reports AFP.

1pm: Afghan media says gunfire shots can still be heard from the hotel, hours after the government said the siege was over.

12.45pm: Pakistan condemns the attack and calls for cooperation among countries for effectively combating terrorism. “Pakistan strongly condemns the brutal terrorist attack at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul last evening. In our view, cooperation among the states is important for effectively combating and eliminating the scourge of terrorism,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.

11:50am: Afghan government says the siege is over but clearance operation is ongoing, reports TOLO news.

11:10am: Kabul Internation Hotel siege ends, all gunmen killed, Reuters quotes government as saying.

10:49am: Ministry of interior’s spokesperson says Kabul Intercontinental Hotel siege over - 3 attackers killed. 126 people rescued, including 41 foreigners. Confirms 5 civilians killed and 6 wounded. Fire fighters trying to bring hotel blaze under control, Afghan media reports.

10:25am: The ministry of interior’s spokesman Najib Danish says so far five civilians have been killed and six wounded, reports TOLO News.

9:45am: No hostages but security forces are searching for 1-2 attackers. Among the 100 hostages rescued, 16 were foreigners, Afghan media reports.

9:30am: Afghan media images show dramatic attempts to escape by hostages at the hotel.

9:15am: At least five people have been killed in the Kabul hotel attack, AFP quotes Afghan spy agency.

“Five are dead,” an official with the Afghan spy agency told AFP, adding 100 hostages have been released.

9:05am: Authorities are unable to reach hotel attack victims as siege continues through the morning, Afghan media reports.  

9am: Security sources tells TOLO news 30 people have been rescued, two attackers killed but at least one gunman is hiding on the 8th floor of the hotel.

8:52am: TOLO news reports additional special forces and foreign troops have arrived at the Intercontinental Hotel which has been under siege for over 10 hours. Afghan nationals and foreigners are still inside the hotel.

8am: TOLO news confirms 3 people injured in the attack have been taken to Wazir Akbar Khan hospital. Others have been shifted to the Kabul Emergency hospital and military hospitals.

7:45am: Eyewitnesses who escaped the attack said gunmen randomly shot at hostages, including guests and hotel staff, according to TOLO.

7:30am: “Four attackers are inside the building,” an official at the National Directorate of Security (NDS) spy agency told AFP. They are “shooting at guests”, he said.

A security personnel points his weapon near the Intercontinental Hotel after a deadly attack in Kabul. (AP Photo)

7:15am: Hotel manager Ahmad Haris Nayab, who managed to escape unhurt, said the attackers had got into the main part of the hotel through a kitchen and people fled amid bursts of gunfire on all sides.

7am: Afghan interior ministry spokesperson Najib Danish said many details of the raid, which came days after a US embassy warning of possible attacks on hotels in the capital, were still unclear and there were no official casualty figures.

6.33am: Here’s what we know so far:

The attack began at about 9pm (local time), with reports suggesting the gunmen shot at security guards as they made their way into the five-storey building. They targeted staff and guests before special forces were called in.

Security forces then cleared the ground floor of the luxury hotel but the attackers are still on the floors above.

Some reports said the hotel had been hosting an IT conference attended by provincial officials at the time. One witness told Reuters news agency that the attackers had taken hostages.

The attack comes just days after the US embassy in Kabul issued a warning about hotels in the city. The gunmen set off an explosion and sparked fires in the hotel. There is no official word on the number of deaths.

6.28am: An eyewitness tells TOLOnews at least 15 people have been killed in the attack. The death toll is likely to go up.

6.18am:

6.16am: Nasrat Rahimi, a deputy spokesperson for the Afghanistan interior ministry, says one of the four attackers has been killed and the three others are still battling the forces from inside the hotel. Reports had earlier said two gunmen had been killed.

6.11am: According to The New York Times, commander of the Kabul Garrison Gen Afzal Aman says: “The attackers are at one side of the building. There are guests trapped in their rooms. We do not know who are the attackers. There could be two or three of them.”

6.07am: More gunfire reported from the hotel. While there is no clarity on the number of deaths, an official said casualty figures will be released once the operation ends. An eyewitness says there have been a number of deaths.

6am: There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack that followed a series of security warnings in recent days to avoid hotels and other locations frequented by foreigners. Here is an advisory released by the US state department on Thursday:

5.42am: Reports say gunfight resumed around 4am (local time) after a brief period of calm. Additional forces have reached the hotel.

5.15am: A survivor tells TOLOnews that the attackers fired indiscriminately at hotel staff and guests. He says “a number of people have been killed “.

5.08am: TOLOnews reports: “Security source confirms three gunmen involved in Intercontinental hotel attack. He says one has so far been killed but the other two are fighting security forces. One is on the third floor of the hotel and the other is on the fourth floor.”

4.50am:

4.27am: Hours after the attack began, firing appears to ease as security forces settle in, reportedly waiting for dawn.

3.54am:

3.26am: A TOLOnews journalist reports that no gunfire can be heard now and a few ambulances have entered the hotel compound. There is no official word on casualties.

3.04am: Many details of the incident are still unclear, but Interior ministry spokesperson Najib Danish has said a private company had taken over security about three weeks ago.

2.53am: TOLOnews reports that gunfire can’t be heard at the hotel, but ambulances and firetrucks still wait outside the hotel compound.

2.36am: Rahimi says the first and second floors of the hotel have been secured by security forces, who are now trying to clear the fourth and fifth floors. Special forces are being lowered by helicopters onto the rooftop of the hotel.

2.35am: “Seven wounded people have been taken to hospital,” interior ministry deputy spokesman Nasrat Rahimi tells AFP, adding two attackers have been killed. “Some other guests have been rescued. We will be able to release casualty figures once the operation ends.”

2.22am: TOLOnews reports that ambulances and firefighting trucks have been held back from the scene of the attack.

2.17am: Shahzad Aryobee, Afghanistan’s minister of telecommunications, was earlier quoted as saying that 105 employees of his agency were among those trapped inside the hotel. “I’m here at the scene,” he said, “but the police won’t let us go inside.”

2.05am: Reports say the fourth floor of the hotel, which has four restaurants and a swimming pool, is on fire.

1.35am: The Intercontinental Hotel, located on a hilltop and heavily protected like most public buildings in the city, was previously attacked by Taliban fighters in 2011.

1.23am: Reports say at least two of the raiders have been killed as Afghan Special Forces cleared the first floor and moved to the second, battling the attackers who appeared to have a large supply of hand grenades.

1.15am: On Thursday, the US embassy in Kabul had issued a warning to US citizens, saying: “We are aware of reports that extremist groups may be planning an attack against hotels in Kabul”.

1.02am: “We are hiding in our rooms. I beg the security forces to rescue us as soon as possible before they reach and kill us,” a guest hiding in his room in the hotel tells AFP.

12.55am: Here’s what we know so far:

Four gunmen are attacking Kabul’s landmark Intercontinental Hotel, shooting at guests. An official says the attackers were armed with small weapons and rocket-propelled grenades when they entered the hotel.

“They are now on the third and fourth floors fighting with our forces. We don’t know the details of casualties yet but they set the kitchen on fire,” interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told AFP. The fourth floor of the hotel is also on fire, the NDS official said.

There was no immediate information on casualties in the latest attack on the state-owned 1960s hotel, which is not part of the global InterContinental chain. Some of the occupants inside the hotel are hiding on the second floor, a security source said.

The Intercontinental was last targeted in June 2011 when a suicide attack claimed by the Taliban killed 21 people, including 10 civilians.

12.47am: “We don’t know the details yet but our forces are in the area to bring them down,” ministry of interior spokesperson Najib Danish says.

12.40am:

12.32am: TOLOnews says its journalist at the spot can still hear gunfire.

12.08am: TOLOnews reports that people near Intercontinental Hotel have reported having heard two more explosions at the hotel.

12:06am: Pakistan condemned the attack on Kabul hotel. “Pakistan condemns the terrorist attack on a hotel in Kabul. Terrorism is not acceptable,” tweeted Pakistan’s foreign affairs ministry spokesperson.

12:03am: “Four attackers are inside the building,” an official at the National Directorate of Security (NDS) spy agency told AFP. They are “shooting at guests”, he said.

11:54pm: A number of guests and staff have been taken to a secure area by Crisis Response Unit members & Special Forces who are carrying out a clearance operation. At least 3 terrorists still inside hotel: ANI quoting media

11:42pm: Afghanistan’s Tolonews quotes eyewitnesses saying a number of people have been killed but details have not yet been disclosed as shooting is still ongoing

11:35pm: According to reports, suicide attackers have set fire to parts of the Hotel

11:28pm: Details of the incident, including information on any casualties, were unclear but the attackers appeared to have included suicide bombers, interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said.

(With agency inputs)

First Published: Jan 20, 2018 23:33 IST