Taliban Hotel Siege Ends With 20 Dead
A Taliban siege at the Spozhmai Hotel in Kabul has ended on Friday, after 12 hours of violence, with 20 dead.
NATO forces report that the siege lasted 12 hours when Taliban gunmen stormed into the building, bursting into a party and taking dozens hostage. Yahoo News reports that the assault began at night, and included rocket-propelled grenades, suicide vests, and machine guns, proving how potent the Islamist insurgency remains, despite a decade of war.
The commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan stated that the attack was most likely done by the Taliban-linked Haqqani group, which continues to operate from Pakistan, which could escalate tensions with Islamabad even further.
The Huffington Post reports that the attack was quickly claimed by the Afghan Taliban and that it shows that insurgents are still willing to stage high-profile raids, even though NATO nations are preparing to withdraw most of their combat troops by the end of 2014. General John Allen stated about the attack:
“Afghan National Security Forces and coalition military sources acknowledge that this attack bears the signature of the Haqqani network, which continues to target and kill innocent Afghans and blatantly violate Afghan sovereignty from the safety of Pakistan.”
The attack, and General Allen’s statement comes just days after U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stated that Washington has almost had enough of Pakistan allowing the existence of militant networks, such as the Haqqanis, to continue.
Abdullah Samadi, a survivor of the raid, stated according to The Huffington Post:
“We heard a heavy explosion from a rocket-propelled grenade. We tried to escape, but we were surrounded by suicide bombers. We hid ourselves behind a tree until morning. God protected us. Around dawn they came closer to us and we had to jump in the water. We were there until 9 a.m. and then the situation got better and we slowly, slowly swam toward security forces.”
Yahoo News reports that Sediq Sediqqi, the Afghan interior ministry spokesman, states that 12 to 15 civilians, two hotel guards, and one police man were killed in the gunbattle at the popular Spozhmai hotel, which overlooks Qargha Lake. Five attackers in the Taliban group were also killed.