Home / Others / Site in Kabul Hotel Caps a Violent 24 hours in Afghanistan

Site in Kabul Hotel Caps a Violent 24 hours in Afghanistan



Kam Air canceled several flights on Sunday, according to Farid Peykar, vice president of the company, who added that operations will be affected during the next few days as the company tries to address the commotion and concern of its employees. [19659002] Among the dead were Afghans, including Ahmad Farzan, a 34-year-old religious scholar turned peace activist. Farzan had left his three young daughters in Kandahar to go to Kabul to teach at the university and work at the country's Higher Peace Council, a body that was exploring negotiations with the Taliban.

He often appeared as an analyst on local television, and criticized the difficult regional dynamics that stifle any hope of peace in Afghanistan. But the new year had begun with a message of hope, posting on its Facebook page:

"L ife is beautiful

One day, one hour, one minute

will never come back. [19659008] So, please, stay away from violence

avoid frustrations

talk about love. "

Carnage and confusion

The Taliban, generally quick to claim attacks, did not issue a statement declaring their responsibility for the Assault on the Intercontinental Hotel until 14 hours after the start of the siege. At least two senior Afghan officials said the country's intelligence agency had received reports that the Haqqani Network, a particularly brutal arm of the Taliban, had planned the attack.

"The attack was carried out by the Haqqani Terrorist Network # Pakistan." Javid Faisal, spokesman for the Afghan government's chief executive, said on Twitter .

Mr. Danish, the Interior Ministry spokesman, said that six assailants armed with grenades and AK-47 rifles had entered the hotel through the kitchen around 9 p.m. on Saturday. Most of the rooms were occupied, with at least 100 guests from the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology staying there for a conference.

Helicopters and drones circled the hotel for hours while the guests hid inside, many huddled under the beds or in the stables toilet. Television images showed the guests trying to get out of the windows with the help of improvised strings. The elite forces that arrived on the scene rescued 160 guests, including 41 foreigners.

"Our research teams are searching and working room by room to find out the exact victims and information," said Mr. Danish.

There was a lot of confusion about when the operation ended. At first, the authorities declared the siege around 9 a.m., saying that the four assailants had been killed. But a New York Times reporter on the scene continued to hear explosions and gunfire, which security officials said were part of a "clean-up operation." When the Ministry of the Interior later said that there had been six attackers, it was clear that two had been lost in their initial sweep.

"We tried to act with caution to avoid damaging the guests hiding in the rooms and closing the doors against the attackers," said Major General Afzal Aman, commander of the Kabul garrison, which is responsible for the security in the capital.

Photo

A man trying to escape from the hotel.

Credit
Omar Sobhani / Reuters

A city with barricades

In a room on the second floor of the hotel, Haji Saheb Nazar, 45, an employee of Afghan Telecom, spent the night huddled in a bathroom, afraid to leave. After dawn, he spoke on his cell phone in a whisper, almost in tears. "It's still happening, up and down," he said. "I do not know what is happening".

"My family is very worried about me and they keep calling me," he said. "I do not know what's happening outside and how many of them are in the hotel, but if they're only four years old, why can not the police kill them or arrest them?"

Another guest, Abdul Rauf, 48, said that He had crossed the corridors of the hotel when a gunman fired and then had taken cover in his room.

"I do not know if he was a policeman or a suicide bomber, but he was shooting," he said over the phone while hiding under the bed in his hotel room. "Two rooms were on fire and smoke came into my room, I could not breathe until I broke a window with my chair"

Mukhtar, a 50-year-old Afghan man who uses only one name, spent the night on the street in front of the hotel, repeatedly calling her 24-year-old son, Zaiurahman, who works inside as a security guard. He received no response until shortly after dawn on Sunday.

"He said he was safe, I was very happy and I cried," Mukhtar said. "Since midnight until now I've been waiting here, and now I just want to hug him and kiss him when he gets out"

This is not the first time that a popular hotel has been the target of an attack in a city increasingly entrenched, with walls of explosives growing more and more.

The Intercontinental was attacked by insurgents in 2011; 21 people were killed, including nine attackers, and many others were injured before the Afghan authorities, with the substantial assistance of international military forces, managed to end the violence.

Other hotels have also been attacked. The Serena Hotel, a luxury establishment in Kabul, has been hit three times, including an attack in 2014 that killed nine. In that assault, Taliban gunmen hid small guns in the soles of their shoes to evade security, then entered the restaurant and killed the guests at close range, including a well-known Afghan journalist, his wife and all but one of their children. The events led to an unusual apology for what the Taliban called an "error".

In 2015, the Park Palace hotel in downtown Kabul was the site of an attack that killed at least 15 people, including an American.

Increasing violence

Kabul's latest attack comes amid escalating violence across the country. In the northern province of Balkh, which has been at the center of a recent political confrontation with the central government, at least 18 people were killed in a Taliban attack on Saturday night, most of them members of a police militia local, officials there said

Nazar Gul Sholgarai, a commander of the local militia, said the men had been lured to a dinner where a Taliban infiltrator had paved the way for the attack. He said a delegation had returned with samples of meat served at dinner to see if the men had been poisoned before being shot.

"The bodies are still there, we have not buried them, we are chasing the steps of the Taliban," said Sholgarai. "The Taliban had come with six horses and four donkeys."

Separately, in the western province of Herat, a Toyota Corolla carrying workers struck a roadside bomb, leaving at least eight dead, said Abdul Ahad Walizada, spokesman for the provincial police.

In the neighboring province of Farah, the Taliban have been tightening the rope around the provincial capital, Farah City, for weeks. The group has repeatedly perpetrated attacks on the margins of the city, where militant attacks are often deterred by air strikes.

Security forces have suffered heavy casualties in the province during the past month, according to members of the provincial council. On Saturday night, a Taliban bomb killed Colonel Gulbahar Mujahid, deputy police chief of the province, and wounded two of his officers while traveling in Humvees during an operation.

"The fighting was inside the city of Farah and the night continued in general, which keeps us awake and terrified," said Abdul Rahman, a resident of the city of Farah. "We thought that the Taliban would be everywhere in the city in the morning, but we found security forces nearby, the bazaar does not work because of the fight last night and the strong presence of security in the city."

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