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Rediff.com  » News » In PHOTOS: Kabul hotel siege ends, 19 killed

In PHOTOS: Kabul hotel siege ends, 19 killed

Last updated on: June 29, 2011 17:05 IST

In PHOTOS: Kabul hotel siege ends, 19 killed

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At least 19 people have been killed in a more than four-hour standoff between militants and police at a luxury hotel in Kabul, according to the Afghan police.

Eight other people two policemen and six civilians were wounded in the attack which ended early Wednesday when North Atlantic Treaty Organisation helicopters fired rockets at gunmen on the rooftop of the besieged hotel and Afghan security forces stormed the top of the building, according to deputy police chief in Kabul, Daoud Amin.

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Image: Smoke rises from the Intercontinental hotel in Kabul
Photographs: Omar Sobhani/Reuters
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Kabul hotel siege ends, 19 killed

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Afghanistan Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi says six suicide bombers attacked the Inter-Continental Hotel, which is frequented by Afghan officials and foreign visitors. He says two of the bombers were killed by hotel guards and four others either blew themselves up or were killed in the air strike or by Afghan troops.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in a telephone call to The Associated Press.

Image: Smoke rises from the Intercontinental hotel as a NATO helicopter flies overhead, in Kabul
Photographs: Omar Sobhani/Reuters
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The state-owned 1960s hotel, which is not part of the global InterContinental chain, was hosting delegates attending an Afghan security conference and a large wedding party when the insurgents struck at dinner-time.

Earlier, Samoonyar Mohammad Zaman, a security officer for the Ministry of Interior, said some Afghan provincial governors were staying at the hotel and some of them had left. But some members of their entourages might still be inside.

"There have been some people who have escaped, but most of the guests are still inside," he said.


Image: A NATO helicopter flies above the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul
Photographs: Omar Sobhani/Reuters
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Kabul hotel siege ends, 19 killed

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Zaman said there were 60 to 70 guests at the hotel, which is frequented by Afghan political leaders and foreign visitors. He said the insurgents were armed with machine guns, anti-aircraft weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and hand grenades. The were using grenade launchers, he said.

Afghan national security forces were moving inside the blacked out hotel slowly as to not frighten or hurt any guests, he said.

Image: The roof of the Intercontinental hotel is lit up by an explosion during a battle between NATO-led forces and suicide bombers and Taliban insurgents in Kabul
Photographs: /Omar Sobhani/Reuters
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Kabul hotel siege ends, 19 killed

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The United States State Department indicated that all its diplomatic staff were safe and confirmed US special envoy Marc Grossman and all the members of his visiting delegation had safely departed Afghanistan and were en route to Washington.

"The United States strongly condemns the attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, which once again demonstrates the terrorists' complete disregard for human life," it said in a statement.

Image: File photograph of the Intercontinental Hotel
Photographs: Reuters
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