(Image source from: yahoo.com)
In an overnight siege, Gunman dressed in army uniforms battled against Afghan Special Forces at the Intercontinental Hotel, leaving 30 people dead including 14 foreign nationals. The 17 hour battle terrified guests and left them running around the building seeking refuge and to escape. The Afghan Forces regained control in 18 hour overnight battle and some 160 people were rescued.
The 6 storey-ed luxury Intercontinental Hotel is on a hilltop overlooking Kabul; the Afghan Capital. Gunmen stormed into the Hotel dressed as Army personals and shot 6 people immediately. Then they began an 18 hour long siege with killings crossing over 30 and dozens injured. Though the deaths reported by sources is 19, but in a report, “a senior Afghan security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, said the death toll was over 30 and might climb higher. The dead included hotel staff and guests as well as members of the security forces who fought the attackers”
Interior minister Najib Danesh stated, “all five attacker were killed” He also added further that “the recent decision to transfer security to a private company had been a mistake” He added that the weapons used by the attackers were Kalashnikovs and hand grenades. He also stated that the attackers were affiliated to Pakistan-based Haqqani network. This group is based out of Pakistan’s tribal area of Waziristan. They have been involved in some high profile terrorist attacks on foreigners in Afghanistan. These Haqqani’s are closely ties with Talibans and Al Qaeda, and they aim to bring in Talibani rule in Afghanistan again.
Condemning the tragic attack, US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson stated on Sunday, "The United States stands with the government and people of Afghanistan," he said. "We remain firmly committed to supporting Afghan efforts to achieve peace, security, and prosperity for their country. Violence like what we witnessed yesterday has no place in Afghanistan or anywhere else in the world."
The US Dept. of State had warned of a possible attack on Kabul by extremists, a week before.
US Ambassador John Bass condemned the attack and stated "Such violence has no place here or anywhere in the world, Afghanistan deserves peace and security -- not deliberate and murderous attacks on innocent civilians,"
Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned this attack and issued a statement, "We reiterate our strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. In our view, cooperation among the states is important for effectively combating and eliminating the scourge of terrorism,"
Chief Executive Abdulalh Abdullah stated “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.”
The gun men came in at 21:00 local time when the people were having dinner. They stormed and began firing at the foreigners also shouting, "Where are the foreigners?"
Haseeb, an eye witness stated, "They were wearing very stylish clothes," he said. "They came to me and asked for food. I served them the food and they thanked me and took their seats. Then they took out their weapons and started shooting the people.There were dozens of dead bodies lying around me."
Several people were seen using bedsheets and blankets to get down from balcony of the Hotel while the Afghan Forces batted the 5 gunmen. These Afghan Forces were brought by Helicopters on the roof of the Hotel at night. They went on every floor for clearing operation, stating there were 4 attackers. But Taliban released a statement claiming the responsibility and also stating there were 5 Gunmen.
The security of the Hotel was handed to a private party just 2 week ago and the Ministry is now assuring to get in-depth report on how the security was breached.
Hotel Manager Ahmad stated that the gunmen entered through the kitchen. Intercontinental is a state owned Hotel which hosts political gatherings, conferences and weddings. In June 2011 also 7 Talibani’s attacked the same Hotel killing 11 people.
By Minu Manisha