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Survivors of Taliban attack on Kabul hotel recount ordeal

23 January 2018

A group of as many as four gunmen attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in the Afghan capital Kabul today, seizing hostages and exchanging fire with security forces as the building caught fire and residents and staff fled. Witnesses report that the hotel is shooting.

The Afghan Interior Ministry said Sunday morning the operation to rescue the hostages has completed, with 126 hostages - of which 41 were foreigners - rescued.

The hotel, located on a hilltop and heavily protected like most public buildings in the city, was previously attacked by Taliban fighters in 2011. "There is need for a credible investigation into the attack, including on reported security lapses".

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Separately, Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal tweeted, "We reject the knee jerk allegations by some Afghan circles to point the finger at Pakistan for the terrorist attack on intercontinental hotel in Kabul".

This weekend's attack on the Intercontinental Hotel was just the latest in a long string of incidents targeting civilians in Afghanistan.

The Interior Ministry said a private firm assumed responsibility for securing the hotel around three weeks ago.

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Official government data about victims is not yet confirmed.

More than 100 IT managers and engineers were on site when the attack occurred, Ahmad Waheed, an official at the telecommunications ministry, said. Some people were injured or killed jumping out of windows while trying to escape.

"We commend the swift and effective response of the Afghan security forces". According to various sources, the attackers were from 2 to 4 people.

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They have also had to contend with a growing Islamic State affiliate that has carried out a number of massive attacks in recent years.