Kabul: Four Indians were killed when gunmen stormed a guest house here, trapping several foreign nationals inside and triggering hours-long overnight standoff with Afghan security forces. An American was also killed in the gunfight.
The attack started at about 0900 PM last night when three gunmen launched a brazen assault at the Park Palace Hotel, popular with foreigners and located in the Kolola Pushta area of the Kabul city.
Soon after the gunmen stormed the guest house, Afghan National Security Forces including Special Forces arrived and began striking back the attackers and also rescuing those under siege inside the guest house.
Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi said security forces rescued 54 people from inside the guest house but five people lost their lives.
All three attackers were killed in the siege that lasted for about seven hours, ending in the wee hours of this morning.
“Unfortunately a few Indian casualties among others at the Kabul g/house attack today,” Indian Ambassador Amar Sinha tweeted but official sources later confirmed that two Indians were among the dead.
Two Indians, an American and two Afghans were killed in the attack, Khaama Press reported. At least six people were also wounded in the attack. One or two Indians were still unaccounted for, sources said.
United States Embassy in Kabul confirmed the death of one of American national in the attack.
A concert attended by foreigners and Afghans was due to begin at the guest house around the time the gunmen stormed the place.
So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the siege on the guest house which has rooms for visitors and a residential area for those who live full-time in Kabul, including foreign aid workers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, currently on a three-day visit to China, tweeted last night, “In the aircraft I got news about the attack in Kabul. Am concerned about the situation & I pray for everyone’s safety.”
Kolola Pushta is home to several international guest houses and hotels and is near the Afghan interior ministry.
Today’s brazen assault was reminiscent of two attacks last year on a hotel and a restaurant in which 30 were killed.
Earlier today, gunmen opened fire at a meeting of Muslim clerics in Helmand, killing at least seven people. The Taliban, ousted from power in 2001, have stepped up attacks since they announced their “spring offensive” last month.