Saturday, January 20, 2018

BREAKING NEWS: Four gunmen 'in suicide vests shoot at guests' during attack on Intercontinental Hotel in Afghan capital of Kabul

Four gunmen believed to be wearing suicide vests have attacked the Intercontinental Hotel (pictured) in the Afghan capital of Kabul
Four gunmen believed to be wearing suicide vests have attacked a luxury hotel in the Afghan capital of Kabul - shooting at guests and setting one of the floors on fire. 

The incident unfolded at 9pm local time (4.30pm) with sounds of gunfire and an explosion, which has since set part of the building on fire.
Flames have engulfed the fourth floor of the hotel, which sits on a hilltop and is heavily protected by security guards.  
Details of the ongoing incident, including the number of casualties, are as yet unclear, but the attackers appeared to have been wearing suicide vests, Afghan ministry spokesman Najib Danish said.
There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, the latest in a long series to have hit Kabul.   
A guest hiding in his room said he could hear gunfire. The electricity has also been cut out.
He told AFP: 'I don't know if the attackers are inside the hotel but I can hear gunfire from somewhere near the first floor,' he said without giving his name.
'We are hiding in our rooms. I beg the security forces to rescue us as soon as possible before they reach and kill us.'
The hotel, one of two main luxury resorts in the city, was previously attacked by Taliban fighters in 2011, killing 21 people, including 10 civilians. 
It is often used for events including conferences attended by government officials.
'Four attackers are inside the building. They are shooting at guests,' an official at the National Directorate of Security (NDS) spy agency told AFP. 
Another official said the attackers were armed with small weapons and rocket-propelled grenades when they entered the hotel, which often hosts weddings, conferences and political gatherings.

'They are now on the third and fourth floors fighting with our forces. We don't know the details of casualties yet but they set the kitchen on fire,' interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said. 
Security in Kabul has been tightened since May 31 when a massive truck bomb ripped through the diplomatic quarter, killing some 150 people and wounding around 400 others - mostly civilians. No group has yet claimed that attack.
The Islamic State group has claimed most of the recent attacks in the Afghan capital, but authorities suspect that the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani Network has been involved in some of the assaults.
The deadliest of the recent attacks happened at a Shiite cultural centre on December 29 when a suicide bomber blew himself up, killing more than 40 people.  

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