Taliban storm lakeside hotel in Kabul, 18 dead

Taliban militants armed with guns and rockets attacked a lakeside hotel near Kabul overnight, seizing dozens of hostages including women and children and killing at least 18 people.

It took the government 12 hours to declare the brazen assault on the Spozhmai Hotel over with all four militants killed, after security forces earlier freed a number of the hostages.

The attack is likely only to exacerbate fears that insecurity is spiralling as NATO combat troops prepare to exit the Afghan war in 2014.

The US commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan blamed the Al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani network for orchestrating the assault, the latest in a series of spectacular commando-style raids on hotels, government and Western targets in Kabul blamed on the faction.

On a balcony overlooking the lake, a birthday cake lay half eaten on a table surrounded by a dozen empty chairs, while nearby sprawled the bloodied body of a young man shot repeatedly in the chest. Like many of the victims, he was dressed in Western clothes, an AFP reporter said.

The Spozhmai is a haunt of the wealthy Kabul elite and on Thursday nights -- the start of the Afghan weekend -- is usually packed with families and mixed groups of men and women.

The Taliban attacked as people gathered for a late dinner.

At least one of the militants detonated an explosive suicide vest, said Mohammad Zahir, the head of Kabul police criminal investigation department.

Witness Sharifullah, 30, had gone to the Spozhmai for dinner with a friend.

"I saw three armed men entering the area where people, families, had gathered. Moments later the shooting broke out, people panicked and started screaming," he told AFP.

"I threw myself in a ditch but saw bullets hitting a father, his son and wife who were sitting around a table near me. I am not sure if they survived."

The standoff ended at 11:00 am, when the fourth attacker was killed, the interior ministry said.

Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said the attackers killed 18 people, including three hotel guards and one policeman.

The Taliban, who are leading a bloody insurgency against Karzai's Western-backed government, told AFP that the hotel was attacked because of "wild parties, drinking and prostitution" every Thursday.

Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid accused foreign diplomats, and members of the US-led NATO mission and the Kabul government of attending the hotel's Thursday gatherings.

Qargha lake lies around 10 kilometres (six miles) from central Kabul and its pleasant weather and greenery make it a popular picnic spot for daytrippers from the capital. The lake is surrounded by hotels, restaurants and wedding halls.

General John Allen, the US commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan accused the Pakistan-based Haqqani network of orchestrating the siege, saying it "bears the signature of the Haqqani network".

Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the United States was running out of patience with Pakistan over its refusal to eliminate terror havens.

NATO intends to withdraw its 130,000 combat troops by the end of 2014, exiting the costly war that has killed tens of thousands of Afghan civilians and more than 3,050 foreign soldiers.

President Hamid Karzai warned Thursday that attacks on Afghan police and soldiers were increasing, saying that 20 to 25 personnel were being killed every day.

On Wednesday, a suicide bomber attacked a joint Afghan-NATO patrol in the eastern city of Khost, close to the Pakistan border, killing 21 people including three US soldiers.

Hotels, guest houses, government buildings, embassies and military bases in Kabul have been a frequent target of commando-style insurgent attacks.

In April, militants launched coordinated attacks on government offices, embassies and foreign bases in Kabul in the biggest assault on the Afghan capital in 10 years of war.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Philippines to fly over disputed South China Sea: Aquino
    Philippines to fly over disputed South China Sea: Aquino

    Philippine military and commercial aircraft will keep flying over disputed areas in the South China Sea despite Chinese warnings over the airspace, President Benigno Aquino said on Monday. "We will still fly the routes that we fly based on the international law from the various conventions we entered into," Aquino told reporters when asked whether the Philippines accepted China's position. The Chinese military last week ordered a US Navy P-8 Poseidon surveillance plane away from airspace …

  • ‘Kentex owners still in Phl’
    ‘Kentex owners still in Phl’

    The daughter of one of the Kentex Manufacturing Corp. owners has assured the government that the businessmen are still in the Philippines, contrary to some reports that they have fled the country. Barbara Ang, daughter of Kentex shareholder Veato Ang, said her father and his business partners have no plans of leaving the country despite the razing of the Valenzuela slipper factory, which killed 72 workers on May 13. Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian also stood by his promise to punish any local …

  • Gasoline prices up, diesel down
    Gasoline prices up, diesel down

    Oil companies announced yesterday a price hike of 50 centavos per liter for gasoline and a rollback of 50 centavos per liter for diesel effective at 6 a.m. today. Independent oil firms were among the first to announce the price adjustment. In an advisory, PTT Philippines, the local subsidiary of Thailand’s biggest oil firm said it cut diesel prices by 50 centavos per liter and increased gasoline prices by 50 centavos per liter. …

  • Lawmakers to review building code provisions
    Lawmakers to review building code provisions

    Lawmakers are set to review provisions of the National Building Code and Republic Act 10121, or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, to strengthen contingencies and policies to prepare the country for possible major earthquakes. The move came following proposals from Reps. Winston Castelo of Quezon City and Lito Atienza of the Buhay party-list to review the two laws and other regulations during a hearing of the House committee on Metro Manila development on the …

  • Noy: Phl may attain first world status with continued reforms
    Noy: Phl may attain first world status with continued reforms

    The Philippines’ attaining first world status may soon be imminent if significant reforms initiated by the current administration would be consistently pursued, President Aquino suggested yesterday. “Kung madidiligan ang ating mga pinunla, at makaka-graduate ang mga pinag-aaral natin upang makapasok sa maaayos na trabaho, baka po tuluyan nang nasa first world status tayo sa panahong iyon (If we water the seeds sown and those we sent to school will find better jobs, then time will come that …

  • Phl won’t recognize China air restrictions
    Phl won’t recognize China air restrictions

    The Philippines will not recognize restrictions on air and sea travel set by China in the West Philippine Sea, President Aquino said yesterday. “We will still fly the routes that we fly based on international law and the various conventions, agreements that have been entered into through various decades,” Aquino told reporters in an ambush interview after inspecting the Marikina Elementary School in preparation for the opening of classes in June. “Maybe we should not think about getting …

  • Rainy season likely in 2nd week of June
    Rainy season likely in 2nd week of June

    Filipinos may have to wait until the second or third week of June for rain, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said yesterday. Rene Paciente, chief of PAGASA’s marine meteorological services section, said they expect the rainy season to start in the second or third week of June. The criteria for declaring the onset of the rainy season include the prevalence of the southwest monsoon and the 25-millimeter rainfall recorded in at least five …

  • UN urged to probe torture cases under Noy’s term
    UN urged to probe torture cases under Noy’s term

    The United Nations has been asked to look into   110 cases of torture and numerous cases of illegal arrests during the Aquino administration. Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary-general, yesterday said the matter could be looked into when the United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) visits from May 25 to June 3 to monitor the  implementation of the Optional protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OpCAT), which the Philippines ratified in 2012. “We enjoin the UN SPT to …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options