ISLAMABAD - Afghan government forces ended an overnight siege Sunday at Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel that resulted in multiple deaths and injuries, including the deaths of 14 foreign nationals.
Afghan journalists who visited the attack site Sunday reported on social media that they saw dozens of bodies inside the hotel. TOLOnews, the largest television station in Afghanistan, quoted "credible security sources" that the attack leftat least 43 people dead.
Kam Air says 10 of its staff died in the militant raid, including five pilots. Two Venezuelans and six Ukrainians are reported to be among the victims.
The siege lasted nearly 14 hours, during whichsix assailants either blew themselves up or were gunned down by Afghan forces.
Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told VOA the last surviving attacker blew himself up before midday Sunday, setting fire to the sixth floor where he had been holed up.
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres condemned the attack and extended his condolences to the families of the victims.
The foreign ministry confirmed the newly appointed Afghan consul general to the Pakistani port city of Karachi was among those killed in the hotel attack.Rahimi said more than 161 guests, including 41 foreigners, were rescued.
Security forces went "room-by-room" before formally declaring the building cleared of suspects, he added.
International forces reportedly assisted Afghan partners in dealing with the attack.
A group claiming to represent the Afghan Taliban said the hotel attack killed and wounded "dozens" (20 or 30) of "foreign occupiers," including U.S. Special Forces, commandos and intelligence officers. The information was published by SITE Intelligence, a private group that tracks jihadist activities. The Taliban insurgency claimed its suicide bombers carried out the assault, which they said targeted a meeting of Afghan and American security officials. The Taliban often inflates its casualty claims.
Officials have not yet commented on these claims.
The siege began when gunmen wearing army uniforms and suicide vests stormed the hotel kitchen. They then moved into conference halls and other floors of the building, while shooting at guests.
An Interior Ministry statement claimed the Taliban-allied Haqqani Network of terrorists plotted the violence.