Just a few days after US President Barack Obama controversially announced a major withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban have struck the Intercontinental Hotel in the heart of Kabul. The ABC has reported that at least 6 gunmen and one suicide bomber attacked the hotel and holed-up for several hours, before they were eventually taken-out by NATO helicopters. The death toll currently sits at a minumum of 10.
Witness Sayed Hussain said he was inside the hotel compound when the attack started.
“I saw five to six men in civilian clothing armed with rifles who started shooting when they entered,” he said, speaking close to the scene. “I lay down on the ground and soon after the police arrived.”
He added that police and the attackers then traded fire for about 10 to 15 minutes before he heard a loud explosion.
Another man, who did not want to give his name, said he had been at the hotel intending to have dinner with friends when he heard gunshots and lay down in a muddy ditch to hide.
An Afghan guard was then shot nearby and fell on top of him, he said.
AFP reporters said that the hotel was in darkness after power in the area had apparently been cut. Traffic had also been diverted from the area and police were out in force with more arriving, he added.
(Quote via AFP/The Australian)
Below is an initial Sky News report.
This attack on one of the most prestigious and well-known Western symbols in Afghanistan could potentially vindicate those who have speculated that the announced troop withdrawal would only send the message that the US is weak and the Taliban is winning the war. Hopefully, the US and its allies will be able to re-assert themselves and prove that this is not the case.