Kabul Hotel Attack: Four gunmen had stormed Kabul's Inter-Continental hotel on Saturday (AFP)
Four gunmen attacked Kabul's Inter-Continental Hotel on Saturday and started shooting at guests, an Afghan official was quoted as saying
by the AFP news agency.
This is not the first time that Kabul's Inter-Continental Hotel has been targeted. In 2011, 21 people, including 10 civilians, were killed in a suicide attack.
An official for the Afghan spy agency has told AFP that five people have died and eight have been injured in the siege, which has gone on for 11 hours and still continues.
Here are the hihglights on the Kabul Inter-Continental Hotel attack:
According to news agency AFP, the Taliban has claimed responsibility for the Kabul Inter-Continental Hotel attack.
6 dead in Kabul hotel attack, says news agency AFP
An Afghan interior ministry deputy spokesman was quoted by news agency AFP saying that six people, including five Afghans and one foreigner, had died in the siege.
"Five Afghans and one foreigner have been killed," interior ministry deputy spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told AFP. He also told AFP that around 150 people were rescued, including more than 40 foreigners.
US State Department monitoring situation closely: Reuters news agency
According to news agency Reuters, the US State Department was in touch with Afghan authorities to see whether any US citizens were affected. It is also monitoring the situation closely.
"Afghan National Defense and Security Forces are leading the response efforts. According to initial reports, no Resolute Support or (U.S. forces) members were injured in this incident," said Captain Tom Gresback, spokesman for the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, in an emailed statement.
Afghan Special Forces moved through Kabul hotel floor by floor: news agency Reuters
News agency Reuters reported on the Kabul attack, saying that Afghan Special Forces moved through Kabul's Inter-Continental hotel floor by floor fighting surviving gunmen, seizing hostages and staging an overnight siege.
In a report, Reuters said that 16 foreign nationals had been rescued but it was not clear what their nationalities were.
The report also said that an eyewitness, who didn't wish to be named, saw the attackers take hotel staff and guests hostage.
Kabul hotel attack is over: interior ministry
News agency AFP has quoted the interior ministry as saying that the Kabul hotel attack is now over.
Five people are dead and eight injured in Kabul's Inter-Continental hotel attack, an official for the Afghan spy agency told news agency AFP.
The official for the spy agency added that 100 hostages have been released.
The siege has gone on for 11 hours and still continues.
A guest hiding in a room told AFP he could hear gunfire inside the 1960s hotel where dozens of people attending an information technology conference on Sunday were staying.
"I don't know if the attackers are inside the hotel but I can hear gunfire from somewhere near the first floor," the man, who did not want to be named, said by telephone.
"We are hiding in our rooms. I beg the security forces to rescue us as soon as possible before they reach and kill us."
Abdullah Sabet, an official at the communications and information technology ministry, said IT officials from around the country were staying at the hotel ahead of a conference on Sunday.
"There were 40 of them in the hotel. We don't know if any of them have been killed or wounded," Abdullah Sabet said.
An official from the National Directorate of Security official said, the fourth floor of the hotel, which boasts several restaurants and an outdoor swimming pool, had been set on fire during the raid.
"The first and second floors have been cleared and three wounded guests taken to hospital," interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told AFP.
"Some other guests have been rescued. We will be able to release casualty figures once the operation ends," he added.
News agency AFP quoted an official saying the attackers were armed with small weapons and rocket-propelled grenades when they blasted their way into the hotel, which often hosts weddings, conferences and political gatherings.
Pakistan Foreign Affairs spokesperson tweeted condemning the Kabul attack
"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 guest hiding in a room told AFP he could hear gunfire inside the 1960s hotel.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the latest attack in the Afghan capital that followed a series of security warnings in recent days to avoid hotels and other locations frequented by foreigners.
While it shares the same name, the hotel in Kabul is not part of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), which issued a statement in 2011 saying that "the hotel Inter-continental in Kabul is not part of IHG and has not been since 1980", Reuters reported.
Hotel manager Ahmad Haris Nayab, who managed to escape unhurt, said the attackers had managed to get inside and people were fleeing amid bursts of gunfire on all sides, but he could say nothing about any casualties, according to Reuters news agency.
A seminar was underway at first floor of Kabul Intercontinental Hotel when three armed men were said to have opened fire on participants, mostly provincial directors of ministry of IT. One room has been completely burnt down by assailants.
Intercontinental Hotel was targeted in 2011 also. 21 people, including 10 civilians, were killed in the suicide attack.
A guest who is hiding in his room in the hotel, told AFP that he could hear gunfire. "I don't know if the attackers are inside the hotel but I can hear gunfire from somewhere near the first floor," AFP quoted the guest as saying.
"We are hiding in our rooms. I beg the security forces to rescue us as soon as possible before they reach and kill us," the guest said.
The fourth floor of the hotel is on fire, according to an official from the National Directorate of Security.
The gunmen were exchanging fire with security forces, an interior ministry spokesman said.
Details of the attack, including information on any casualties, were unclear but the attackers appeared to have included suicide bombers, ministry spokesman Najib Danish was quoted as saying by Reuters.