Militants armed with rockets and automatic weapons have launched a suicide attack on a hotel at a popular Kabul beauty spot, with reports saying that insurgents are holding numerous hostages.
Afghan security forces and coalition troops are responding to the assault at the site at Qargha Lake on the outskirts of the Afghan capital, a spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said.
The target appeared to be Afghan police and civilians, ISAF said, adding there were reports of police and civilian casualties.
The assault, claimed by the Taliban, came just hours after President Hamid Karzai warned that attacks against local police and soldiers were increasing as they prepare to take over security when NATO combat troops leave in 2014.
Mohammad Zahir, the head of Kabul police criminal investigation department, said the attack began around 11:30 pm (1900 GMT) on Thursday, when suicide attackers armed with rockets and Kalashnikov rifles stormed a gathering at the Spozhmai Hotel.
At least one of the attackers detonated his explosive suicide vest, Zahir said.
Kabul deputy police chief Daoud Amin said that according to hotel guards, there were three attackers inside the hotel, as well as numerous civilians. Witnesses fleeing the scene said the attackers were holding hostages.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, said in a text message that fighters had launched strikes on two hotels used by foreigners. However, police and security officials have only confirmed one hotel was attacked.
Sort of reminds us of ‘Beauty Academy of Kabul’