Elite Afghan forces backed by forces from NATO ended a siege of 12 hours at a popular hotel on Friday on the outskirts of Kabul. At least 20 people lost their lives in the siege after gunmen from the Taliban stormed the lakeside hotel, bursting into a private party and taking dozens hostage.
The assault took place at night and the Taliban used rocket propelled grenades, machine guns and suicide vests, which helps to show how potent the insurgency remains even following years of war.
Guests who fled for their lives could be seen jumping into the lake under darkness to escape. Afghan officials said close to 300 people were inside the hotel when the Taliban started their assault. A spokesman for the interior ministry of Afghanistan said that up to 15 civilians, two guards from the hotel and a police officer were killed in the attack. Also killed were five of the attackers.
The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility for the attack and showed their ability to stage a raid in a high-profile area.
Blood could be seen splattered on the floor of the hotel and a body of one victim was still visible in the hotel’s garden. Among those wounded in the attack were women and children.
The Taliban used civilians from the hotel as human shields to hold of Afghan forces. The attackers held close to 50 people into late Friday morning. An elite quick response group of police with support from NATO troops freed the hostages at daylight, not wanting to attack at night and possibly hurt civilians in the confusion.