Kabul hotel siege ends after 12 hours with 18 dead, Afghan officials say

Gunmen who raided the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul killed at least 18 people during a 12-hour standoff with securi...

Posted: Jan 22, 2018 10:22 AM
Updated: Jan 22, 2018 10:22 AM

Gunmen who raided the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul killed at least 18 people during a 12-hour standoff with security forces that ended Sunday, Afghan authorities said.

Of those killed, 14 were foreign nationals and four were Afghans, according to Najib Danish, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior. Four gunmen were also killed by Afghan security forces responding to the attack, he said.

The slain included nine people from Ukraine and one person each from Greece, Germany and Kazakhstan, Kabul Police Chief Salem Ehsas said. The nationalities of two people were not known yet, he said. Ten people were injured, including four civilians, he said.

Afghan security forces went on every floor of the six-story hotel in a clearing operation, said Danish. He said four attackers were involved, but the Taliban released a statement claiming responsibility and saying it was carried out by five assailants.

The attackers were affiliated with the Pakistan-based Haqqani network, according to the Interior Ministry.

The ministry said 153 people -- including 41 foreigners -- were rescued from the hotel. After the Interior Ministry declared the siege over, TOLO news channel reported that two attackers were still inside the hotel and gunshots were still being heard.

Gunmen attacked the hotel about 9 p.m. Saturday and were still trading fire with Afghan special forces Sunday morning, the station reported. Ambulances raced to the scene during a lull in the shooting, a witness who lives near the hotel told CNN.

Guests try to escape

During the standoff, the hotel's third floor, site of the kitchen, caught fire, said Nasrat Rahimi, a deputy spokesman for the Interior Ministry.

TOLO showed images of people apparently hanging off balconies, saying they were "desperate guests and staff trying to escape" from the burning hotel.

Ukrainian victims

"Shocked by the tragic news from Afghanistan," Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said in a statement. "Ukrainian citizens, employees of the Ukrainian airline, fell victims of the terrorist attack in Kabul."

Poroshenko expressed his condolences to the families of the victims.

Pavlo Klimin, Ukraine's minister of foreign affairs, condemned the attack on Twitter.

"Horrific news from Afghanistan. Strongly condemn terrorist attack in Kabul," he wrote. "Sincere condolences to the relatives and loved ones of the victims."

Haqqani network

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson issued a statement on Sunday condemning the attack.

"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 State Department had warned last week of a possible attack by extremist groups targeting Kabul hotels.

The Afghan Interior Ministry blamed the Haqqani network for the attack. The group is based in the Pakistani tribal area of Waziristan and known for its high-profile attacks on Western targets in Afghanistan. The network maintains close ties to al Qaeda and the Taliban, and seeks to reestablish Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

In 2001, then-US Ambassador Ryan Crocker accused the Haqqani network of a daylong attack against the US Embassy in Kabul.

This month, President Donald Trump announced his administration would suspend aid to Pakistan until the country took more assertive steps to rein in terror organizations, referring to the Haqqani network by name.

Pakistan's ministry of foreign affairs issued a statement condemning the attack on the Intercontinental in Kabul.

"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," it said in a statement.

US Ambassador John R. Bass also condemned the attack and commended the security forces' quick response.

"Such violence has no place here or anywhere in the world," Bass said.

"Afghanistan deserves peace and security -- not deliberate and murderous attacks on innocent civilians," he said in a statement.

The British ambassador to Afghanistan, Nicholas Kay, also tweeted his condolences, saluting the bravery of the Afghan security forces.

"When it's over, Kabul will show its resilience again," Kay said.

Hotel was attacked in 2011

In June 2011, seven Taliban fighters attacked the same hotel over several hours. In the end, all seven, along with 11 other people, were dead.

The InterContinental Hotels Group developed the hotel, which opened in 1969. But the hotel has had no association with the group since the Soviet invasion in 1979, though it continues to use the name without connection to the international company.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 512632

Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
Rankin22442402
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Madison14874283
Jones14086247
Forrest13741259
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Warren6849178
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Winston317792
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Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
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Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
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Claiborne134238
Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 845108

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161242006
Mobile741961379
Madison53291732
Shelby38328368
Baldwin38074589
Tuscaloosa36017641
Montgomery34483781
Lee25557263
Calhoun22585518
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Cullman16050303
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Walker12029380
Blount10715192
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Chilton7018170
Escambia6955143
Covington6933195
Franklin6342108
Chambers5784142
Marion5403130
Dallas5285209
Pike5118109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4780110
Geneva4642136
Bibb434094
Barbour369480
Butler3434100
Marengo342393
Monroe337066
Randolph334367
Pickens333188
Fayette330085
Henry320666
Hale318389
Cherokee317763
Crenshaw260477
Washington257052
Cleburne254460
Lamar251453
Clay250869
Macon244764
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