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Gunmen Attack Intercontinental Hotel In Kabul

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Will Racke Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter
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At least four gunmen stormed a popular hotel in Kabul on Saturday, shooting guests and exchanging fire with security forces in a terror attack in the heart of the capital of Afghanistan.

The attack occurred at the Intercontinental Hotel, one of Kabul’s two luxury hotels known for hosting events and conferences attended by government officials.

Details of the attack, which was ongoing as of 10:00 p.m. local time, were unclear, but the group of assailants appeared to have included suicide bombers, reports Reuters, citing an interior ministry spokesman.

Afghan government officials could not immediately confirm the number of casualties. An interior ministry spokesman told Agence France-Presse that some of the attackers were trapped inside the hotel, where they were in a shootout with Afghan security forces.

“They are now on the third and fourth floors fighting with our forces,” interior spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told AFP. “We don’t know the details of casualties yet but they set the kitchen on fire.”

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. The heavily fortified hotel was last hit in 2011, in a Taliban suicide bombing that killed 21 people, including 10 civilians.

Just days before Saturday’s attack, the U.S. embassy in Kabul issued a warning to American citizens about an elevated risk of attack against local hotels.

“We are aware of reports that extremist groups may be planning an attack against hotels in Kabul,” the embassy said Thursday, according to Reuters.

ALSO WATCH:

Increased U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan under President Donald Trump has not improved the security environment in Kabul, which has been the scene of several devastating attacks over the past year. In May, a massive truck bomb detonated in the city’s diplomatic quarter, killing 150 people and wounding about 400 others. More recently, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a Shiite cultural center in Kabul, leaving another 40 people dead.

The Islamic State in Afghanistan has claimed several of the recent attacks, but Afghan officials say the Taliban-linked Haqqani network has also carried out some of the assaults.

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