Taliban: Assailants attack hotel in Afghan capital Kabul
Video circulating on social media showed people clamouring out of windows on the lower floors of the building, with the hotel sign -- in English and Chinese -- clearly visible.
Published: 12th December 2022 05:00 PM | Last Updated: 13th December 2022 01:23 AM | A+A A-
ISLAMABAD: A hotel catering to foreign visitors in Afghanistan’s capital of Kabul was attacked Monday and three of the assailants were killed, a Taliban official said.
Two foreign residents were injured when they jumped out of windows to escape, said Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban government’s spokesman. Residents reported explosions and gunfire and photos and video posted on social media showed smoke rising from the building.
The Emergency Hospital in Kabul said in a tweet that there was an explosion and gunfire near a hotel approximately a kilometer away. “So far, we have received 21 casualties — 3 were already dead on arrival.”
Khalid Zadran, the Taliban-appointed spokesman for the Kabul police chief, said the attack lasted several hours. He said a “clean-up” operation was ongoing.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but the regional affiliate of the Islamic State group — known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province and a rival of Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban — has increased its attacks since the Taliban takeover of the country last year.
A resident of the Shar-e Naw neighborhood where the attack happened told The Associated Press that he heard explosions and then several gunshots. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals from Taliban officials.
Another resident in the Shar-e Naw neighborhood told the AP that a gun battle was still going on. He said he and his family were staying inside their home about three blocks away form the attack site. He also spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.
Taliban forces rushed to the area and blocked all roads leading to the site, said Zadran, the police chief spokesman.
Beijing has long feared Afghanistan could become a staging point for minority Uyghur separatists in China's sensitive border region of Xinjiang. The Taliban have promised that Afghanistan would not be used as a base for militants and, in exchange, China has offered economic support and investment for Afghanistan's reconstruction.
Maintaining stability after decades of war in Afghanistan is Beijing's main consideration as it seeks to secure its borders and strategic infrastructure investments in neighbouring Pakistan, home to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The Taliban are at pains to portray Afghanistan as safe for diplomats and business people but two Russian embassy staff members were killed in a suicide bombing outside the mission in September in an attack claimed by IS.
The group also claimed responsibility for an attack on Pakistan's embassy in Kabul this month that Islamabad decried as an "assassination attempt" against the ambassador. A security guard was wounded in that attack.
Despite owning the rights to major projects in Afghanistan, notably the Mes Aynak copper mine, China has not pushed any of these projects forward. The Taliban are reliant on China to turn one of the world's largest copper deposits into a working mine that would help the cash-strapped and sanctions-hit nation recover.
(with inputs from AFP)