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Jun 28th, 2011


Police Search Kabul Hotel for Victims After Attack

NATO helicopters fire on gunmen after suicide bombers blow themselves up


Smoke and flames light up the night from a blaze at the Intercontinental hotel after an attack on the hotel by Taliban fighters and a response by Afghan security forces backed by NATO helicopters in Kabul on June 29, 2011.  (Photo credit: Massoud Hossaini / AFP — Getty Images)

The Associated Press, Reuters, and NBC News via MSNBC.com
June 28, 2011

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan police sifted through one of Kabul’s landmark hotels room by room on Wednesday for any more casualties or security threats after an overnight assault by at least six Taliban suicide bombers killed up to 10 Afghan civilians.

It was one of the biggest and most complex attacks orchestrated in the Afghan capital and appeared designed to show that the insurgents are capable of striking even in the center of power at a time when U.S. officials are speaking of progress in the nearly 10-year war.

The attackers, armed with rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons, stormed the heavily guarded Inter-continental hotel before NATO helicopters killed the remaining insurgents in a final rooftop battle that ended a raid lasting more than five hours.

The number of gunmen who attacked the hotel, frequented by Afghan officials and foreign visitors, was unclear but an Interior Ministry spokesman said there were six. Media reports put the number of civilians killed inside the hotel as high as 10. …

The attack began when a suicide vehicle blew up at the front gate of the hotel, NBC News reported. Then, six attackers reportedly entered the restaurant and exploded bombs.

The attackers were heavily armed with machine guns, anti-aircraft weapons, rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades and grenade launchers, the Afghan officials said. The big question is how the attackers were able to penetrate and get weapons into one of the most heavily fortified public facilities in Kabul.

Some of the attackers carried tape recorders playing Taliban war songs and shot at anyone they saw. Guests jumped from second and third floors to escape, the receptionist told Reuters, asking not to be identified.

Afghan police rushed to the scene and firefights broke out. They battled for hours with gunmen who took up positions on the roof.

The Associated Press reported two back-to-back explosions hours later as helicopters hovered overhead.

NATO helicopters “engaged three individuals on the roof,” coalition spokesman Major Tim James said. “The indications are that the three individuals on the roof have been killed.” …

The insurgents on the roof were wearing suicide vests which detonated either right before or as a result of being shot by the NATO helicopters, NBC News reported. …

Full story

Earlier report

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6/29/2011 Update

‘Everybody Was Shooting’: 18 Die in Kabul Hotel Attack 

Coalition soldiers leave after taking part in a military operation against the insurgents in Kabul on June 29, 2011. (Photo credit: AFP — Getty Images)

The Associated Press and Reuters via MSNBC.com
June 29, 2011

KABUL, Afghanistan — Police scoured one of Kabul’s landmark hotels room-by-room on Wednesday after an overnight assault by suicide bombers killed at least 10 people.

Armed with rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons, the eight attackers stormed the heavily guarded Inter-Continental hotel, frequented by Westerners and VIPs.

Afghan security forces entered the building and engaged the attackers, some of whom blew themselves up. A NATO helicopter then killed the remaining insurgents in a final rooftop battle that ended a five-hour standoff.

After several explosions, attackers entered the hotel late on Tuesday and made their way to the ballroom, a hotel receptionist said. …

A lone suicide bomber, who had been injured in the attack, later blew himself up in one of the rooms, officials said. …

The attack on a five-story hotel raised doubt about the ability of Afghan security forces to take charge of securing the nation from foreign combat forces.

[Kabul police chief Ayoub] Salangi said the attackers, who were able to penetrate the hotel’s tight security, attacked at around 10 p.m. local time (1:30 p.m. ET) Tuesday on the eve of a conference about transferring responsibility for security across the nation from foreign combat troops to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014.

Salangi said most of the 10 victims were workers and cooks employed at the hotel. He provided no further details, but said none of the conference attendees staying at the hotel were harmed.

“There were no casualties among the guests — either foreign or Afghan,” he said. “No high-ranking government officials were killed.” …

At around 3 a.m. local time (6:30 p.m. ET), two NATO helicopters opened fire on the roof of the hotel where militants had taken up positions.

U.S. Army Maj. Jason Waggoner, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting in Afghanistan, said the helicopters killed three gunmen and Afghan security forces clearing the hotel worked their way up to the roof and engaged the remaining insurgents.

As the helicopters attacked and Afghan security forces moved in, there were four massive explosions. Officials at the scene said the blasts occurred when security forces either fired on suicide bombers or they blew themselves up. …

Full story

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6/23/2012 Update

Taliban Hostage Siege At Lakeside Kabul Hotel Leaves At Least 23 Dead


People hide from militants outside the Spozhmai hotel on Lake Qurgha during an attack on the hotel on Friday, June 22, 2012. (Photo credit: Musadeq Sadeq / AP)

By Cheryll Simpson
NBC News and Reuters via MSNBC.com
June 22, 2012

KABUL – Guests swam for their lives after five Taliban gunmen attacked a lakeside hotel in Afghanistan, killing at least 23 people and taking 50 others hostage in a siege lasting several hours, according to reports.

The militants — armed with rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns — attacked the exclusive Spozhmai hotel in the Qargha Lake recreation area late Thursday, bursting into a private party and shooting dead hotel workers.

The local police chief told NBC News that all five insurgents were killed. The Associated Press quoted local police as saying the civilian death toll was 18 — including hotel guards and a policeman — and likely to climb. …

Reuters journalist Hamid Shalizi reported that the guests were a party of wealthy Afghans.

NBC News producer Cheryll Simpson said on Twitter that heavy gunfire could be heard from the hotel, which is about six miles from the center of Kabul.

The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the hotel was used for “prostitution, alcohol and immorality,” she reported.

For the deeply conservative Taliban, men and women who simply mingle … are condemned as pimps and prostitutes who deserve punishment sanctioned by God. …

Violence across Afghanistan has surged in recent days, with three U.S. soldiers and more than a dozen civilians killed in successive attacks, mostly in the country’s east where NATO-led forces have focused their efforts during the summer fighting months.

Several well-planned assaults in Kabul in the past year have raised questions about whether the Taliban and their al Qaeda-linked Haqqani network allies have shifted tactics to embrace high-profile attacks targeting landmarks, foreigners and Afghanistan’s elite, extending a guerrilla war once primarily waged in the countryside.

Afghan insurgents attacked Kabul’s heavily protected diplomatic and government district on April 15 in an assault, eventually quelled by Afghan special forces guided by Western mentors, similar to one in September 2011. …

Full story

Video

Taliban hostage siege at lakeside Kabul hotel (NBC Nightly News, June 22, 2012) — Guests swam for their lives after the Taliban gunmen stormed a lakeside hotel in Afghanistan, killing at least 17 people and taking 50 others hostage in a siege lasting several hours, according to reports. NBC’s Cheryll Simpson reports. (01:14)

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Related reports on this site

Video

Coordinated attack on embassies in Afghanistan (NBC Nightly News, April 16, 2012) — A ferocious 18-hour Taliban attack on the Afghan capital ended when insurgents who had holed up in two buildings were overcome by heavy gunfire from Afghan-led forces and pre-dawn air assaults from U.S.-led coalition helicopters. ITN’s Bill Neely reports. (02:16)

Taliban Launch Spring Offensive With Attacks Across Kabul (April 17, 2012)

Deadliest Attack on U.S. in Kabul Since Afghan War Began (Oct. 30, 2011)

Daylong Taliban Siege of U.S. Embassy in Kabul (Sept. 13, 2011)

Gunbattle Rages for Hours in Kabul, Afghanistan (Aug. 20, 2011)

Taliban Strikes in Heart of Kabul (Feb. 26, 2010)

Taliban Siege Rattles Kabul (Jan. 19, 2010)

Afghan War Closes in on Kabul (Oct. 28, 2009)

NATO Headquarters in Afghanistan Attacked (Aug. 15, 2009)

Mumbai-Like Strike in Kabul (Feb. 12, 2009)

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — June 28, 2010

Afghanistan: Security Forces Not Up to Snuff


New recruits of the Afghan National Army practice saluting in their new uniforms at the Afghan National Army training site in Kabul, Afghanistan, on May 14, 2002. (Photo credit: Sgt. Kevin P. Bell — U.S. Army / Dept. of Defense)

One year ago today, I reported that an independent report by the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction found that the U.S. had often overestimated the ability of Afghan military and police units to fight on their own, calling into question the strategy to win the war and bring troops home.

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: Two Years Ago — June 28, 2009

Iraq-Afghanistan Weekly Update

Two years ago today, on June 28, 2009, I provided my weekly summary of security incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan.





5 Responses to “NATO Returns Fire in Kabul Siege”
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