21 killed in Kabul hotel attack

21 killed in Kabul hotel attack

Commandos kill nine Taliban fighters during brazen late-night raid

21 killed in Kabul hotel attack

In the first night time raid in the heart of Kabul, close to 10 heavily armed men barged into the hilltop Intercontinental Hotel, which is popular with foreigners, after killing the guards.

Media reports said that many of the frightened guests jumped from the second and third floors in a desperate bid to escape death.

The Afghan interior ministry said the four-hour audacious attack — somewhat akin to what happened at the Taj Hotel in Mumbai in 2008 — began around 11 pm Tuesday.

It finally got over at 3 am Wednesday after Nato helicopters engaged one group of the attackers on the hotel roof.

“The enemies of peace and stability committed another shameful crime by sending nine suicide bombers,” the ministry said.

Civilian toll

It said the dead included nine Afghan civilians — mostly hotel staff — and a Spanish man, Xinhua reported. The police, army and the international coalition forces together killed all nine suicide bombers, the government said. Eventually, police scoured the hotel room by room.

Several explosions were heard during the night. One report said the attackers had rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons. At least 18 people, including five policemen, were wounded in the savagery.

The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility. Zabihullah Mujahid, who claimed to be a Taliban spokesperson, spoke to the media via telephone from an undisclosed location. He said some Taliban fighters equipped with suicide vests stormed the hotel and inflicted casualties on foreign and Afghan guests.

The Intercontinental Hotel is a fortified accommodation frequented both by foreigners and Afghan officials. Some officials said there were 60-70 guests in the hotel when the attack started.

French reporters freed by Taliban

Two French television journalists kidnapped in Afghanistan were released Wednesday after spending 18 long months as prisoners of the Taliban.

The pair, cameraman Stephane Taponier and reporter Herve Ghesquiere of state network France 3, were seized in November 2009 in the mountains of Kapisa, an unstable region east of the Afghan capital Kabul. They were in good health and spirits and were due to fly back to the Villacoublay air base outside Paris on Thursday.

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