Gunmen attack hotel in Afghan capital; police kill 4 attackers

Afghan security personnel arrive at the site of the attack in Kabul March 20, 2014

(Reuters) – Taliban gunmen attacked a luxury hotel on Thursday in the centre of the Afghan capital Kabul, police said, and four of the assailants were killed in a shootout with Afghan security forces.

Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told Reuters all the gunmen were dead and security forces were in control of the hotel. He said he was not aware of deaths among the staff or guests, but checks were under way and Afghan special forces were on the scene.

The attackers appear to have entered the hotel around six in the evening with pistols hidden in their socks and waited three hours to start their attack, he said.

They fired on guests and then hid in bathrooms when security forces arrived, he said. The gunmen appeared to be under 18 years old.

Two guards had been wounded, he said. No other casualties were confirmed.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack and said the attackers had fired at foreign and Afghan guests celebrating the Afghan new year.

“Suicide bombers have entered the Serena Hotel, heavy battle is underway, enemies suffered heavy casualties,” he said in a text message.