Foreigners among 14 civilians killed in Kabul siege
KABUL (Pajhwok): Fourteen civilians, including nine foreigners, were killed after Taliban gunmen stormed a guesthouse popular with foreigners in the Kolola Pushta neighbourhood of capital Kabul on Wednesday night, the UN mission said on Thursday.
The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) in a statement condemned the attack against civilians gathered for a cultural event in the Park Palace hotel.
The statement said 14 civilians were killed and several others were wounded in the assault that security officials said involved three to four gunmen.
Security officials said nine foreigners were among the dead, including one American, one British, one Italian and four Indians. The overnight attack was the most audacious since the Taliban have launched their spring offensive.
Earlier, Brig. Gen. Humayun Aini, 119 police helpline chief at the Ministry of Interior, told Pajhwok Afghan News the attack took place shortly after 9 pm. Several people, including Indian and Turkish guests, were inside the building.
Security forces engaged the attackers who trapped more than 50 guests inside. A security official, wishing anonymity, said three or four gunmen had entered the Park Palace guesthouse. He said five guests were killed.
Kabul police chief Lt. Gen. Abdul Rahman Rahimi told reporters at the scene gunshots were heard from inside the guesthouse. He said 80 to 100 people, mostly foreigners, including Indians, were inside the building when it was attacked.
US Embassy spokeswoman Monica L. Cummings in a statement confirmed a US citizen was among the dead,
Indian Ambassador to Kabul Amar Sinha tweeted Wednesday night that “a few Indian casualties among others at the Kabul siege”.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his concern over the guesthouse attack in Kabul and prayed for everyone's safety.
"In the aircraft I got news about the attack in Kabul. Am concerned about the situation and I pray for everyone's safety," Modi tweeted as he boarded a plan for China on a three-day visit.
Later Modi telephoned President Ashraf Ghani and extended his condolences to families of the victims.
Two Pakistanis were also killed in the guesthouse attack. One of them was an advisor at Da Afghanistan Breshna Shirkat while the other was working with Park group.
When contacted, Akhtar Munir, press counselor at Pakistani Embassy in Kabul, told Pajhwok Afghan News that “unfortunately, yes, two Pakistanis are among the dead.”
He said Abdul Sattar and Ismail Awan were working for Park group and Da Afghanistan Breshna Shirkat respectively.
The brazen attack follows NATO’s decision to maintain a presence in Afghanistan even after the current training operation ends by the end of 2016 during a foreign ministerial meeting in Turkey on Wednesday, an announcement welcomed by the Afghan foreign minister.
The police helpline chief said the guest house fell in the jurisdiction of the fourth police district near the Dutch Embassy. He said an entire area was cordoned of soon after the attacker entered the gues house.
Eyewitnesses said private guards of the guest house engaging the attackers had managed to rescue some of the guests.
The Taliban claimed credit for the attack, with the group’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid saying one of their fighters Mohammad Idrees managed to force his way inside the hotel. He claimed dozens, including foreigners, were killed in the attack.
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