Kabul, Afghanistan — The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the siege on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul that resulted in 22 dead. The siege lasted for 12 hours and there were reports of shooting, explosions and a fire that broke out. People were seen using bed sheets to climb out of their windows and down to the safety of the ground outside.
Four Afghans and 14 foreigners were reportedly killed at the beginning, but the death toll has risen and continues to rise. New reports suggest that over 40 people could be dead. These initial reports said that there were 22 wounded, seven of which are Afghani. While there has been little information as to the nationalities of the foreigners killed, the Ukranian Foreign Ministry has said that at least one among the dead was from the Ukraine. The police told the BBC that there were two unidentified nationalities, and that most were Ukrainian, with one Greek, one German and one Kazakh among the dead. The Ukranian numbers have not been confirmed by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko at this time.
With that said, reports are still ongoing and details are still presenting themselves.
The exact number of attackers has fluctuated; according to the Ministry of Interior’s spokesperson, Najib Danish, only four gunman were killed by Afghan security forces. The Taliban told Al-Jazeera that there were five, so it is unknown if the Taliban are mistaken, if they are lying or if a gunman was able to escape. With the allegations pointing toward the Haqqani network, it could simply be internal misinformation.
The alleged Taliban gunmen dressed up in military uniforms before assaulting the heavily defended compound on Saturday, guarded by a private security firm. The ensuing conflict would run through the night and into Sunday, and Afghani Special Forces were dispatched to subdue the attackers.
Another report told BBC that they were wearing “stylish clothes.” Whichever report is true, disguises have been a hallmark of Taliban ingress to their targets for quite some time.
Over 160 people were rescued as the Afghanis took back the building, and there were reports of gunfire interior to the hotel, meaning the Afghani forces were directly engaged with the gunmen.
This was potentially a part of a wider attack by the Taliban — the same night, Taliban members entered the homes of Afghani police officers and killed them there. As of now, the death toll there is 18 Afghani Police Officers.
According to the Afghan Interior Ministry, the Haqqani network rooted in Pakistan was actually responsible for the attack. They operate out of Waziristan, a region in northwest Pakistan. U.S. President Donald Trump has recently told Pakistan that he will retract their financial aid until the U.S. government is satisfied that they are taking the appropriate steps to combat terror groups operating in their borders in places like Waziristan.
Featured image courtesy of the Associated Press.