The death toll from a Taliban terror attack on a hotel in Kabul has risen to 20, including 14 foreigners. The guests were shot during a 14-hour terror rampage at the hotel.
The Intercontinental hotel is a state-owned hotel not connected to the global chain of the same name. It is popular as a conference venue in the Afghan capital. Guests attending an IT conference tried to flee, according to one report. During the attack telecoms executive Aziz Tayeb posted a desperate plea on Facebook: “Pray for me. I may die.” Tayeb was due to attend an IT conference on Sunday 20 January at the hotel.
The gunmen stormed the luxury hotel in Kabul and killed at least 18 people, most of them foreigners, sparking a 12-hour battle with Afghan forces backed by Norwegian troops that left terrified guests scrambling to escape.
Six Ukrainians were among those killed in the Taliban-claimed assault on the six-storey hotel.
Terrified hotel guests climbed down bedsheets tied to balconies to escape the gunmen rampaging through the hilltop hotel overlooking the Afghan capital.
Special forces were lowered by helicopters during the night onto the roof of the building. Afghan security forces killed all six attackers, the interior ministry said.They were aided by Norwegian troops. The Afghan interior ministry claimed 160 guests and staff were rescued after troops fought to regain control of the Intercontinental. Nine Ukrainians, one German, one Greek and one Kazakh citizen were among those confirmed dead.
Terrorists had burst into the hotel at 2100 local time on Saturday evening as guests were enjoying dinner. It was reported that the terrorists had entered the hotel via the kitchen evading guards posted at the front of the building.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault via email. The attack followed security warnings in recent days to avoid hotels and other locations frequented by foreigners in war-torn Kabul.
Afghan Telecom regional director Aziz Tayeb, who was one of dozens of people at the hotel attending an IT conference, said he saw the attackers enter.
"Everything became chaotic in a moment. 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," Tayeb told AFP.
Interior ministry deputy spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said the attackers were armed with light weapons and rocket-propelled grenades when they stormed the hotel.
Security in Kabul has been ramped up since May 31 when a massive truck bomb killed some 150 people and wounded around 400 - mostly civilians.