China confirmed Tuesday that five of its nationals were wounded in a deadly bombing-and-shooting attack targeting a hotel in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul, the previous day.
Islamic State claimed responsibility for Monday’s violence, saying its regional affiliate, Islamic State Khorasan Province, or ISIS-K, carried out the attack and targeted Chinese nationals as well as Taliban members.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin told a regular news conference in Beijing that his government was “deeply shocked” and denounced the attack in the Shar-e Naw downtown commercial area of the Afghan capital.
“As far as we know, five Chinese citizens were injured in the terrorist attack, and several Afghan military and police were also killed,” Wang said.
“China demands the Afghan side spare no efforts in searching for and rescuing Chinese individuals, and at the same time open a comprehensive investigation, severely punish the attackers, and earnestly strengthen the protection of Chinese citizens and organizations in Afghanistan,” he said.
Wang renewed his ministry’s advice for Chinese nationals to leave the South Asian nation as soon as possible.
Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Monday three gunmen had raided the multistory hotel in the afternoon before being quickly engaged and killed by security forces. He said no foreign residents were killed.
“However, two foreign guests were injured when they jumped out of windows to save their lives,” Mujahid added. He did not elaborate, nor did he say whether Taliban forces suffered any casualties.
City residents said the siege had started with explosions followed by gunfire. Social media videos showed flames and smoke in a part of the building, with some Chinese guests jumping out or falling from the windows.
The terrorist raid came a day after the Taliban said China had asked them “to pay more attention to the security” of the Chinese embassy in Kabul.
The United States condemned Monday’s attacks, urging the Taliban to live up to their counterterrorism commitments.
“One of those commitments is to provide a society that is free from this sort of terrorist violence,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters in Washington. “So, we’ll continue to watch very closely, and we continue to stand with the Afghan people who are suffering needlessly as a result of these levels of terrorist violence,” he added.
Last week, two gunmen opened fire on Pakistan’s embassy in Kabul, in an attempt to assassinate the head of the diplomatic mission.
Pakistan’s chargé d’affaires, Ubaid-ur-Rehman Nizamani, escaped unhurt but his Pakistani security guard was shot in the chest, according to officials in Islamabad.
ISIS-K took credit for plotting the attack.
In September, an ISIS-K suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to the Russian embassy in the Afghan capital. That attack killed six people, including two members of the Russian embassy staff.
The Taliban claim to have brought security to the conflict-torn South Asian nation since seizing power in August last year when the United States and its NATO partners completed their military withdrawal.
But frequent bomb blasts and other militants, mostly claimed by ISIS-K, in Kabul and elsewhere in Afghanistan have raised questions about the capability of the Taliban to combat the terrorist group.
The violence has killed hundreds of people in the past year, including the Taliban and members of the Afghan minority Shiite community.
U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said earlier this month that ISIS-K activities in Afghanistan concern Washington, noting that the Taliban “really don’t have the capability to go after it.”
Some information in this report came from The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.