A minimum of 18 civilians have been killed in a fiery siege that started Saturday night time on the Intercontinental Lodge in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul and ended eleven hours later with the deaths of six Taliban attackers wearing fits and wielding AK-forty seven assault rifles, in accordance with witnesses and the nation’s inside ministry.
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The Taliban claimed duty for the assault. The fear group’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid stated the insurgents initially deliberate to ambush the lodge Thursday night time however postponed the assault as a result of there was a marriage underway they usually needed to keep away from civilian casualties.
Ministry spokesman Najib Danish informed ABC Information on Sunday that along with the 18 who died, 10 have been injured — six cops and 4 civilians.
He added that the “closely armed assailants” used hand grenades along with the AK-47s.
A waiter within the lodge restaurant stated the attackers have been nicely-wearing fits and ordered meals previous to the killing spree.
“I introduced them meals,” the waiter, Haseebullah, 24, informed TOLOnews in Afghanistan. “After consuming their meals, they began firing on individuals.”
Haseebullah stated the attackers abruptly received up from their chairs, took out the AK-forty seven assault rifles and began capturing individuals at random.
“I noticed many lifeless our bodies round me and I used to be the one one alive,” Haseebullah stated.
He stated he and eleven different individuals escaped to the fifth-flooring of the lodge and hid in a room.
“However the attackers have been opening doorways of every room” and opened hearth on anybody contained in the rooms.
Danish stated 14 of the civilians killed have been foreigners and the others have been Afghan nationals. Among the many slain foreigners have been 9 Ukrainians, two South Africans, one Kazakhstani and one Greek. The nationality of one of many foreigners who was killed has but to be decided.
Kam Air, a low-value airline headquartered in Kabul, issued a press release Sunday saying members of its employees have been killed within the assault, together with pilots and flight engineers. The airline didn’t specify what number of of its staff have been killed.
The Related Press, nevertheless, reported two Venezuelan pilots with the corporate have been amongst these killed, in line with a brother-in-regulation of one of many victims.
The U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued a security alert Saturday, saying a “collection of explosions” erupted on the Intercontinental Lodge round 9 p.m. native time on Saturday. The siege continued into Sunday morning.
Video aired by the BBC confirmed giant flames and black smoke billowing from the highest-flooring rooms of the forty nine-yr-previous lodge, which sits on a hilltop overlooking Kabul. The footage additionally confirmed individuals utilizing mattress sheets to climb out of rooms to security.
The siege got here because the United Nations Help Mission in Afghanistan was getting ready to carry a know-how convention on the lodge.
Following the assault, Afghan particular forces searched room by room to make sure that all the attackers had been accounted for.
Danish stated one hundred sixty lodge visitors and employees, together with forty one foreigners, have been rescued.
An official on the U.S. Division of State advised ABC Information they “are monitoring the state of affairs and are in touch with native authorities to find out if any U.S. residents have been affected.”
The U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson condemned the assault in a press release, saying the U.S. mourned those that misplaced their lives, “whether or not Afghan residents or residents of different nations.”
“We provide our deepest condolences to the households and buddies of those that have been killed and need for the speedy restoration of these wounded,” he stated.
The Taliban claimed duty for the lethal siege, saying 5 attackers stormed the lodge particularly to focus on overseas nationals and Afghan officers. The Taliban staged an identical strike on the identical lodge in 2011, by which 21 individuals have been killed, together with 9 attackers.
“We’ve seen the Taliban’s declare of duty and condemn terrorist teams for his or her violent marketing campaign towards Afghan and overseas personnel working to enhance Afghanistan,” Tillerson stated within the assertion. “America stands with the federal government and other people of Afghanistan. We stay firmly dedicated to supporting Afghan efforts to realize peace, safety, and prosperity for his or her nation. Violence like what we witnessed yesterday has no place in Afghanistan, or anyplace else on the earth.
“There’s merely no justification for this egregious assault, which is particularly prohibited by Worldwide Humanitarian Regulation and should quantity to a struggle crime,” Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN secretary-common’s particular consultant in Afghanistan, stated in a press release on Sunday. “It’s a ethical outrage that the Taliban entered the lodge with the intention of killing civilians.”
ABC Information’ Conor Finnegan contributed to this report.
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