At least 22 dead in Kabul hotel attack

Photo credit: Intercontinental Kabul

An estimated 160 people were rescued on Sunday after members of the Taliban attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan. Gunmen armed with rocket-propelled grenades and smaller weapons entered the hotel at approximately 9pm local time on Saturday night and took many of the guests hostage.

Afghan troops fought through the night to regain control of the hotel, and succeeded after a standoff that left at least 22 people dead, and national news channel Tolo News said that the death toll could be as high as 43.

Kabul police told the BBC that nine Ukrainians, one German, one Greek and one Kazakh citizen had been confirmed dead. Two other foreigners have yet to be identified.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the U.S. is speaking with Afghan officials about the attack and is “committed to supporting Afghan efforts to achieve peace, security, and prosperity for their country.” The U.S. is in contact with Afghan authorities regarding their investigation of the incident, Tillerson said. 

The attack came just two days after the U.S. embassy in Kabul issued a threat alert that insurgents had planned to carry out an attack against a hotel in the city.

This was the second time the Intercontinental Hotel has come under attack in the past few years. In June 2011, a suicide bomber killed 21 people, including 10 civilians, at the hotel, which is not affiliated with Intercontinental Hotels Group.

The attack once again brings the responsibility of hotels to protect their guests into the spotlight, especially in the wake of October's mass shooting at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.