Siege of Luxury Afghan Hotel Ends, At Least 20 Killed

Security forces ended a twelve-hour siege of a Kabul hotel claimed by the Taliban.

By + More

The twelve-hour siege of a luxurious Kabul hotel ended today after as many as 20 people were killed and hundreds were taken hostage, Reuters reports.

Afghan suicide bombers with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades burst into the hotel late Thursday night, broke up a party and grabbed hostages. The attack lasted through the night, as Afghan security forces battled insurgents within the Spozhmai hotel until Friday morning.

An estimated 12 to 15 civilians were killed, along with two hotel guards, a policeman, and five insurgents, according to Reuters. The security forces freed around 35 hostages, many of them guests at the lakeside getaway.

[Photos: A New Wave of Violence Hits Afghanistan]

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

"The mujahideen … attacked a … hotel that was used by foreigners for their illicit fun and having parties. It was a special hotel for Afghan government officials and foreigners," said Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid. He said the party featured Afghans drinking alcohol, women dancing, and prostitution. "These acts are illegal and stricktly prohibited in Islam."

American officials indicated the siege could have been the work of the Haqqani network, an Islamist militant group based in Pakistan with ties to Al-Qaeda.

"Afghan Security Forces and coalition military sources acknowledge that this attack bears the signature of the Haqqani network, which continues to target and kill innocent Afghans and blatantly violate Afghan sovereignty from the safety of Pakistan," said overall Afghanistan commander Marine Gen. John Allen, in a statement.

Seth Cline is a reporter with U.S. News and World Report. You can contact him at scline@usnews.com or follow him on Twitter.