International

Suicide Bombers Attack Kabul Hotel Frequented By Foreigners

The Inter-Continental hotel in seen in the dark as tracer bullets are shot during an attack in Kabul.

hide captionThe Inter-Continental hotel in seen in the dark as tracer bullets are shot during an attack in Kabul.

Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images

There are multiple reports about at least one suicide bomber and some gunmen attacking Kabul's Inter-Continental Hotel today.

Al-Jazeera English says "one of the leading hotels in Kabul, the Afghan capital, is under attack, according to the head of the city's police criminal investigations."

Though the hotel is a place where foreigners are likely to stay, NBC News is reporting that it has been told by Afghan police that "no westerners" were there at the time — though "Afghan governors" were.

According to the BBC, "Kabul's police chief [said] that security forces were exchanging fire with up to six assailants who had got inside. ... A security official said three suicide bombers had blown themselves up — at the hotel's front gate, on the second floor, and at the back of the hotel."

Reuters says it has spoken with "Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid," who claimed that the militia was responsible for the attack.

Perched atop a hill on the west side of the city, the hotel is a pre-communist era building that once was part of the Intercontinental chain.

Update at 7:16 p.m. ET. Creating 'A Sense Of Precariousness': The New York Times' Alissa Johannsen Rubin told our Newscast unit that this attack was clearly planned to coincide with a conference about transitioning security responsibility to Afghan forces.

She said the attack is meant to "remind people of the insufficiency of the of the security forces." She said, "It's an attempt to show vulnerability" and put the question in Afghan minds of "whether the Afghan government really can stand on its own."

Update at 6:57 p.m. ET. The Hotel Guests: NPR's Quil Lawrence reports from Kabul that it's unclear who was at the hotel at the time of the attacks, but he said the hotel is usually used by Afghan VIPs. Many of them were in town for a conference on the transition of security of seven areas across the country. Quil says that the attack — which marks a spectacular breach of security — will put that discussion in a different light.

Quil also confirmed that helicopters were flying around the hotel and he said explosions could be heard well over a mile away, across the city. Here's a clip of Quil setting the scene:

Quil Lawrence in Kabul

Update at 6:34 p.m. ET. More Explosions: The AP reports that two more explosions hit the hotel about 30 minutes ago. The AP reporters on the scene said three helicopters flew over the hotel's roof, where some of the attackers are, and at least one of the helicopters fired a rocket.

Reuters adds that NATO says two helicopters were from the International Security Assistance Force. Maj. Tim James told Reuters that it looked like the three assailants on the roof were dead.

ABC News' Nick Schifrin confirms that international troops were firing from the helicopters.

Update at 6:12 p.m. ET. AP Video From Outside The Hotel:

YouTube

Update at 4:54 p.m. ET. The Taliban Statement: According the AP, Muhajid, the Taliban spokesman, just released a statement:

"One of our fighters called on a mobile phone and said: 'We have gotten onto all the hotel floors and the attack is going according to the plan. We have killed and wounded 50 foreign and local enemies. We are in the corridors of the hotel now taking guests out of their rooms mostly foreigners. We broke down the doors and took them out one by one.'"

The Taliban often exaggerate casualties from their attacks. The statement did not disclose the number of attackers, but only said one suicide bomber had died.

Update at 4:34 p.m. ET. Battling The Assailants: The AP reports it had reporters on the scene who heard bursts of gunfire and saw shooting from the hotel's roof. The AP adds that Afghan police were using machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

The Wall Street Journal's Maria Abi-Habib reports on Twitter that at least 200 police officers are on the scene.

Nick Schifrin, ABC News' reporter in Afghanistan, tweets that the whole neighborhood is "blacked out. Police say they cut the power."

Update at 4:16 p.m. ET. Deaths Reported: The BBC writes that "a security official said three suicide bombers had blown themselves up — at the hotel's front gate, on the second floor, and at the back of the hotel. At least 10 people are reported to have been killed."

Update at 4:13 p.m. ET: From Kabul, NPR's Quil Lawrence reports that "witnesses heard gunfire and explosions from inside the hotel, where police battled with gunmen."

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