Kabul Hotel Attack Death Toll Could Rise To 43

Days before Saturday's att...									Posted Jan. 22 2018 7:55 AM					Updated Jan. 22 2018 11:16 AM

Several people had been killed and at least six wounded in the attack, which came days after a USA embassy warning of possible attacks on hotels in Kabul, Nasrat Rahimi, an interior ministry spokesman, said. The Afghan government confirmed that 14 of those killed were foreign.

"It is a moral outrage that the Taliban entered the hotel with the intention of killing civilians", said the United Nations envoy, who is also head of UNAMA.

Another credible source said there had been an engagement party at the hotel when the attack happened.

Fourteen of those dead were foreigners at the hotel popular with Westerners, in an assault that the Taliban militant group claimed responsibility for.

Mr Danish said the last attacker was killed this afternoon, more than 12 hours after the attack began.

CNN reported the attackers were affiliated with the Pakistan-based Haqqani network, but Pakistan's ministry of foreign affairs publicly condemned the attack. Some of the 150 guests fled the gunbattle and fire sparked by the assault by shimmying down bedsheets from the upper floors.

Some 160 people were rescued when Afghan troops regained control of the building this morning.

Security alerts sent in recent days to foreigners living in Kabul warned that "extremist groups may be planning an attack against hotels in Kabul" as well as public gatherings and other locations "where foreigners are known to congregate". There were local reports of at least 43 fatalities.

Security forces stand guard near the Intercontinental Hotel after a deadly attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018.

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However a senior Afghan security official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, said the death toll was over 30 and might climb higher.

Security at the Intercontinental, which is not part of the global InterContinental chain, is relatively lax compared with other high-end hotels in Kabul.

Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah also condemned the attack and commended security forces for saving civilians trapped inside the hotel following the incident.

Even before the attack was over Sunday, authorities were questioning how the attackers got past the hotel's security, which was taken over by a private company three weeks ago, said Najib Danish, another interior ministry spokesman. Rahimi said more than 161 guests, including 41 foreigners, were rescued.

Others barricaded themselves in their rooms as the militants hunted...

No one has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which started around 4pm (GMT) on Saturday.

The fourth floor of the hotel, which boasts several restaurants and an outdoor swimming pool, had been set on fire during the raid, the NDS official said.

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

Capt Tom Gresback, spokesman for NATO-led forces, said in a statement that Afghan forces were leading the response efforts.

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