Afghan officials say 10 Afghan civilians were killed in a Taliban attack on a luxury hotel in the capital, Kabul, Tuesday night.
The officials said early Wednesday the figure did not include at least six suicide bombers who either blew themselves up or were killed by security forces. They cautioned the death toll could still rise.
Early Wednesday, Interior Ministry spokesman Siddiq Siddiqi declared the five-hour siege of the Intercontinental Hotel over, saying Afghan security vehicles and ambulances were removing the dead and wounded from the building.
A spokesman for the NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan said earlier two of its helicopters were called in and fired on the roof of the hotel where three militants had taken up positions, successfully eliminating them. The NATO operation appeared to have ended the standoff between the insurgents and security forces.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the group was targeting foreign guests.
In Washington, the U.S. State Department condemned the Taliban attack and said the action once again demonstrated the terrorists’ complete disregard for human life. The State Department extended condolences to the families of the victims and indicated that all U.S. diplomatic staff were safe.
The attack occurred on the eve of a conference about the gradual transition of civil and military responsibility from foreign forces to Afghans.
In other violence Tuesday, NATO said three of its service members died in separate insurgent and bomb attacks in southern Afghanistan.
Also in the south, authorities said a roadside bomb killed two women and wounded a child in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province.