Kabul: Gunmen attacking Intercontinental Hotel

At least four gunmen have launched an attack on Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel, Afghan officials say.

Special forces were battling the gunmen, interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said.

An official at the Afghan spy agency told AFP that the gunmen were “shooting at guests”.

The attack began at about 21:00 local time (16:30 GMT), Mr Danish said. There were no immediate details of casualties.

The attackers appeared to include suicide bombers, Mr Danish was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Security forces were trading fire with them on the hotel’s third and fourth floors, another interior ministry spokesman said.

The attackers had set the hotel kitchen on fire, the spokesman added. Meanwhile the hotel’s fourth floor was also ablaze, an official with the National Directorate of Security (NDS) told AFP.

A guest at the hotel told AFP that people were hiding in their rooms.

“I don’t know if the attackers are inside the hotel but I can hear gunfire from somewhere near the first floor,” the guest said.

“We are hiding in our rooms. I beg the security forces to rescue us as soon as possible before they reach and kill us.”

Some reports said the hotel had been hosting an IT conference attended by provincial officials at the time of the attack.

The Intercontinental is a state-owned hotel which often hosts weddings, conferences and political gatherings.

It was attacked by the Taliban in 2011. Twenty-one people were killed including nine attackers.

Security has been tightened in Kabul since last May, when a huge truck bomb killed at least 150 people.

However, there have been several attacks in recent months. They include a bomb at a Shia cultural centre last month that killed more than 40 people.

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