7 killed in Taliban hostage-taking attack in Afghan hotel
At least six civilians and a policeman have been killed as Taliban gunmen stormed a popular hotel in west of Kabul overnight while several people still were seized hostage by militants, a police official said Friday morning.
"The operation against Taliban hostage-taking attack is going on but as we know so far six civilians and a policeman have been killed," the police official told Xinhua in conditions of anonymity.
At least one explosion followed by continuing gunshots have been heard near Spozhmai hotel in the Qargha Lake, a picnic spot in the western outskirts of Kabul early Friday morning.
Local residents said the shootout has been going on for hours after a group of Taliban gunmen, armed with rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns attacked the hotel at midnight. Police also said that the attack occurred at around 11:00 p.m. local time Thursday.
Several civilians including women and children were in the hotel for a weekend vacation when the attack occurred, sources said. Friday is an official holiday in Afghanistan.
"Several hostages have been rescued and operation is still going on, but a number of civilians have lost their lives in the incident," Mohammad Zahir, head of criminal investigation police in Kabul told local media.
There are some three to four gunmen inside and they are holding hostage several civilians including women and children, he said.
Several ambulances were rushing to the site of the attack.Military helicopters are hovering over the area to monitor the situation. Several units of Afghan army commandos and special operation police forces were in the area where is cordoned off by security forces.
Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. Taliban launched an attack on Kabul Inter-Continental hotel on June last year killing 12 people and injuring over two dozen others.