A militant attack on a luxury hotel in the Afghan capital of Kabul has ended, leaving six civilians dead, among them a foreigner, according to Afghan officials.
At least four assailants raided the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul at about 21:00 local time (16:30 GMT) on Saturday, detonating explosives, taking people hostage, and shooting at individuals as some terrified guests and employees used bedsheets to climb down balconies to escape.
Images broadcast by local television showed thick smoke billowing from the building.
“The attack is over,” Najib Danish, a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, said later on Sunday. He said security forces had killed four attackers.
Interior Ministry deputy spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told AFP that five Afghans and one foreigner were killed, adding that around 150 people were rescued, including more than 40 foreigners.
“The body of the foreigner, a woman, was recovered from the sixth floor as the last attacker was being killed,” he added. It was not clear what the victim’s nationality was.
But AFP cited an unnamed official with the Afghan intelligence agency as saying that the attack was still ongoing.
Special forces, including the Crisis Response Unit as well as foreign troops based in Afghanistan, were called in to end the siege at the high-end hotel, which is frequented by foreigners.
A 12-hour fight ensued.
No individual or group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. Both the Taliban and ISIS are present in Afghanistan.
The Intercontinental Hotel was attacked by the Taliban in June 2011, when a bombing killed 21 people, including 10 civilians.