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Afghan Forces Secure Kabul Hotel

Afghan security personnel stand guard as black smoke rises from the Intercontinental Hotel, Jan. 21, 2018, after an attack in Kabul, Afghanistan. Gunmen stormed the hotel and set off a 12-hour gun battle with security forces that continued into Sunday morning, as frantic guests tried to escape from fourth- and fifth-floor windows.

Afghan security forces regained control Sunday of Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel, after gunmen stormed the building Saturday.

Five people were killed in the hourslong gun battle between the attackers and the security forces. The Associated Press reports a foreigner is among the dead.

Six people were injured during the siege and more than 150 people were rescued.

“The security forces are going room-by-room to make sure that there is not any other attacker in the building,” an interior ministry spokesman said.

The bodies of at least three of the attackers were recovered.

FILE - A photo shows a general view of the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, Jan. 25, 2016.
FILE - A photo shows a general view of the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, Jan. 25, 2016.

The American Embassy in Afghanistan issued a security alert Jan. 18 about hotel attacks.

“We are aware of reports that extremist groups may be planning an attack against hotels in Kabul,” the alert said. It also advised people to “keep a low profile ... carry a charged cell phone” ...and “stay alert in locations frequented by tourists/Westerners.”

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the attack.

The luxury hotel sits at the top of a Kabul hill and is heavily guarded because it has come under attack before.

The Taliban, particularly its ally the Haqqani Network, is known for staging such coordinated attacks in the city, but the insurgent group has not yet said if it was behind the violence.

Islamic State has also taken responsibility for some of the recent suicide bombings in Kabul. The latest IS-plotted attack took place late last month and killed more than 40 people and wounded around 100 others. The victims were mostly members of the Afghan minority Shiite community.

Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel was also the target of a suicide assault in 2011 that killed at least 20 people. The Taliban took responsibility for that attack.