June 28, 2011
KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghan commandos and international forces tonight regained control of a landmark hotel in Kabul four hours after it was stormed by insurgent gunmen and suicide bombers in one of the most significant attacks in Afghanistan in the past few years.
Afghan Interior Minister Gen. Bismillah Khan Mohammadi said six attackers were dead, but it was possible there might still be another hiding in the hotel, where Afghan officials had gathered for a conference.
At least one suicide bomber blew himself up at the hotel entrance and at least four explosions were heard during the gun battle between the insurgents and police and international forces.
The battle ended after troops in NATO helicopters circling over the hotel fired rockets that killed three of the insurgents on the roof.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.
An Afghan news agency is reporting that at least 10 people have died, but that figure has not been independently confirmed.
Afghan officials, including provincial governors, were having dinner at the Intercontinental ahead of a conference on transition that begins tomorrow. Afghan forces are scheduled to take charge of security in some areas of the country starting in July.
According to a State Department official, no American officials were affected by the attack. It's not yet known if any other Americans have been killed or injured.
It is not known if there was a particular target staying at the hotel, which sits on a hill above the city, or if the target was the hotel itself.
The attack occurred while guests were having dinner and power to the hotel and the entire surrounding neighborhood was cut. As they responded to the attack, police cordoned off streets leading to the hotel.
The International Security Assistance Force, the U.S.-led military force in Afghanistan, said it offered assistance to Afghan authorities.
The Intercontinental Hotel is the most famous hotel in Afghanistan and one of the icons of Kabul, where many Westerners and Afghan officials stay and hold meetings.