Afghan Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack on Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel that left at least five civilians killed and six wounded.
Gunmen dressed in army uniform stormed the heavily-guarded hotel in the Bagh-e Bala area on Saturday evening, ensuing a siege that continued into Sunday.
Al Jazeera’s Jennifer Glasse, reporting from Kabul, said the siege was declared over following 16 hours of fighting.
We know the fighting went room-to-room, we know that many guests spent terrifying hours overnight hiding in their rooms as the gunmen moved through the hotel
“Officials are inside [the hotel] now to conduct their investigations and to assess whether they will find any more casualties,” she said.
“We know the fighting went room-to-room, we know that many guests spent terrifying hours overnight hiding in their rooms as the gunmen moved through the hotel.”
The Taliban group, which controls more than a third of the country, said that there will be no peaceful solution unless the international troops leave Afghanistan.
“Our five fighters, Bilal, Ayubi, Khalil, Bashar and Abid entered the building and conducted the operation that resulted in the death of 10 foreigners and Afghan government officials,” Taliban spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, told Al Jazeera.
The Taliban claim however, was at variance with the government, which said at least four attackers involved in the brutal attack were killed.
“We recovered the bodies of at least four attackers,” said Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish.
An eyewitness Abdulhaq Karimi told Al Jazeera that several dead bodies of security guards were near the gate of the hotel. Many were seen running out of the premises as the fighters barged in.
“The fighters can manage to attack anywhere they like. Nowhere is safe,” Karimi said.
The Interior Ministry said a private firm assumed responsibility for the security of the hotel around three weeks ago, and were investigating how the attackers managed to enter the building that is frequented by government officials and foreigners.
|Gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in Kabul killing at least six people, including a foreigner, sparking a twelve hour fight with security forces [Shah Marai/AFP]|
The attack on the Intercontinental Hotel was just one of several assaults on Sunday.
In a village in the northern province of Balkh, Taliban fighters raided houses in the middle of the night, pulling police officers from their homes and shooting them dead.
At least 18 officers were killed, deputy police chief Abdul Raziq Qaderi told local reporters.
In western Herat province at least eight civilians were killed when a car hit a Taliban-planted roadside mine, officials said.
Afghan forces have struggled to combat the Taliban since the US and NATO formally concluded their combat mission at the end of 2014.
The incident came days after the US embassy in Kabul issued a warning that said armed groups may be planning attacks against hotels in the city.
This was the second time that the hotel came under attack.
In 2011, an overnight assault by Taliban fighters and suicide bombers on the hotel ended with security forces killing the attackers and the deaths of at least 10 civilians.