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Taliban militants killed after hotel siege kills 18

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Associated Press

KABUL, Afghanistan

Security forces said today they had killed the last of six Taliban militants to end an overnight siege at Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel that left at least 18 people dead, including 14 foreigners. Some of the 150 guests fled the gunbattle and fire sparked by the assault by shimmying down bedsheets from the upper floors.

The militants, who wore suicide vests, pinned security forces down for more than 13 hours after the attack began about 9 p.m. Saturday. The gunmen roamed the hallways and targeted foreigners and Afghan officials inside the luxury, hilltop hotel.

The more than 150 people who were rescued or managed to escape included 41 foreigners, said Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish. Of those, 10 people were injured, including six security forces, he said.

Eleven of the 14 foreigners killed were employees of KamAir, a private Afghan airline, Danish said. KamAir put out a statement saying some of its flights were disrupted because of the attack.

Six of those killed were Ukrainians, said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin, who added that his office was working with Afghan law enforcement agencies “to clarify the circumstances of this terrorist act.”

Two Venezuelan pilots for KamAir were among the dead, according to Luis Figuera. He told The Associated Press that his brother-in-law, Adelsis Ramos, was killed along with Pablo Chiossone, and that their bodies were identified by another Venezuelan pilot at a Kabul hospital.

A citizen from Kazakhstan also was among the dead at the hotel, according to Anuar Zhainakov, a spokesman for the Kazakh Foreign Ministry.

Afghan security officials confirmed that 34 provincial officials were at the hotel for a conference organized by the Telecommunication Ministry.

Afghan officials said that also among the dead was a telecommunications official from Farah province in western Afghanistan; Waheed Poyan, the newly appointed consul general to Karachi, Pakistan; and Ahmad Farzan, an employee of the High Peace Council, a commission created to facilitate peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban and other opposition groups.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack at the heavily guarded hotel that is popular among foreigners and Afghan officials.