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At Least Two Killed In Attack On Kabul Luxury Hotel


The Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul (file photo)

Afghan security officials said that at least two people have been killed after gunmen attacked Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel on January 20 and that one "terrorist" is among the dead.

Officials said that at least three attackers entered the hotel and exchanged gunfire with security forces that arrived at the scene.

Afghan Interior Minister Wais Barmak told RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan that one attacker and one other person had been killed following the assault on the hotel. It was not immediately clear if the other person was a civilian or a security officer.

Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said earlier that "one terrorist has been killed” and that "search- and-clearance" efforts were continuing at the Intercontinental, one of the two main luxury hotels in the Afghan capital.

Danish said that the first three floors of the five-story hotel had been cleared and that security forces were working to clear the remaining two floors.

Another Afghan security source said that the gunmen had entered the kitchen of the hotel.

Barmak said that 16 people were rescued from the first floor of the hotel. The minister said that a private security company had taken responsibility for protection of the hotel around two weeks ago.

Other details about the attack, including whether any civilians had been killed, were not immediately clear.

Reuters cited hotel manager Ahmad Haris Nayab, who managed to flee the scene uninjured, as saying that the assailants had entered the building and that people were attempting to escape as a flurry of gunfire surrounded them.

Nayab told Reuters, however, that he could not say whether there were any casualties.

An unidentified Afghan intelligence official was quoted by AFP as saying there were four attackers inside the building who were "shooting at guests."

The news agency also quoted an unidentified guest reportedly hiding in his room at the hotel as saying that he could hear gunfire in the building.

The Intercontinental in Kabul was targeted in a June 2011 suicide attack that killed 21 people, among them at least 10 civilians.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the January 20 attack on the hotel.

The Western-backed government in Kabul has been struggling to fend off the Taliban and other militant groups since the withdrawal of most NATO troops in 2014.

U.S. President Donald Trump in August unveiled his new strategy for the South Asia region, under which Washington has deployed 3,000 more troops to Afghanistan to train, advise, and assist local security forces, and to carry out counterterrorism missions.

The United States currently has around 14,000 uniformed personnel in the country.

With reporting by AFP, tolonews.com, CNN, dpa, Reuters, and AP
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