Kabul: Afghan Forces end Intercontinental Hotel Siege
Albanian Daily News
Published January 21, 2018
Guests tried to escape by using bed sheets to climb down from balconiesA 12-hour siege of a luxury hotel by gunmen in the Afghan capital has come to an end, security forces say.
Six civilians, including a foreign woman, died at the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, along with three attackers, the interior ministry said.
Some 160 people were rescued after Afghan troops fought through the night to regain control of the building.
Questions are being asked as to how the heavily-armed gang was able to enter such a highly-fortified place.
No group has yet said it was behind the attack, although suspicion will fall on the Taliban who targeted the hotel in 2011.
Chaos and desperation
The gunmen burst into the six-floor hotel at around 21:00 local time (16:30GMT) on Saturday evening, as guests were enjoying dinner.
Afghan Telecom regional director Aziz Tayeb, who was one of dozens of guests due to attend an IT conference at the hotel on Sunday, said he saw the attackers arrive as he was heading towards the exit.
"Everything became chaotic in a moment," he told the AFP news agency. "I hid behind a pillar and I saw people who were enjoying themselves a second ago screaming and fleeing like crazy, and some of them falling down, hit by bullets."
The gunmen - armed with rocket-propelled grenades as well as smaller weapons - stormed through the hotel taking many of the guests hostage.
During the siege, one guest told AFP they were hiding in their rooms and could hear gunfire coming from "somewhere near the first floor".
Several guests were pictured using bed sheets to try to climb down from a top-floor balcony. One of them lost his grip and fell to the ground.
Dramatic images on Afghan TV showed thick black smoke and flames rising from the imposing hilltop hotel.