Taliban claims deadly Kabul hotel attack

World Today

The Taliban is claiming responsibility for the deadly attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. It was launched Saturday night by a handful of gunmen, some with suicide vests. The total number of casualties is unclear as the search for bodies is underway. CGTN’s Chris Wheelock has details of the attack that lasted more than 12 hours.

The gun battle and siege at the Intercontinental Hotel playing out live on Afghan television for hours. Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry says gunmen breached the hotels’ north side – entering possibly through the kitchen.

Explosions and gunfire rocked the six-story hotel – which is normally heavily guarded.

The attack left many dead, including as many as 14 foreigners and the gunmen. Trapped in their rooms as fire and smoke spread through the hotel, a few people used bed sheets to climb out of windows to safety, while others were at the mercy of the gunmen.

Mohammad Musa, the head of Afghan Telecom in Nuristan, was attending a conference at the hotel when the attack happened. Attempting to climb down using a bed sheet, he fell five floors.

“When the sixth floor caught fire this morning my roommate told me to either burn or escape,” he said. ”I got a bed sheet and tied it onto the balcony. I tried to come down but I was heavy and my arms were not strong enough. I fell down and injured my shoulder and leg.”

The hotel – which is not part of the Intercontinental Hotels Group chain – was hosting a conference of Afghan Telecom and is frequently used by government officials and international clients. It was attacked by Taliban gunmen six years ago.

Afghan Special Forces rescued about 150 people — after killing the last gunman early Sunday morning. Most of the dead were employees of Kam Air – a private Afghan airline.

The Interior Ministry is investigating how the gunmen were able to get in the hotel, as the search for more casualties got under way.