The death toll in a Taliban attack on a hotel in Afghan capital of Kabul has risen to 23, the Afghan Interior Ministry said in a statement Friday evening.
“The terror attack on Spozhmai Hotel in Qargha Lake has left 18 people including 17 civilians and a policeman dead,” the ministry said in a statement.
The clash, according to the statement, began at 11:00 p.m. local time Thursday when the attackers occupied the hotel building, overlooking the lake, some 10 km west of Kabul, and was over at 10: 30 a.m. Friday.
“The five suicide attackers opened indiscriminate gun fire on guests and hotel servants shortly after occupying the building besides holding several civilian hostages,” the statement said, adding that five more people including four civilians and a policeman were injured in the incident.
Meantime, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Interior Minister Basmillah Mohammadi and the top U.S. and NATO commander in the country General John R. Allen have strongly condemned the attack.
General Allen blamed the Haqqani network for the attack. A Taliban-affiliated group of militants, the Haqqani network which mostly operates in eastern Afghan provinces and capital Kabul, has been responsible for many high-profile attacks including suicide bombings and Improvised Explosive Device (IED) against security forces.
Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Taliban-led insurgency has been rampant since the militant group announced that it would launch a spring rebel offensive dubbed “Al-Farooq” from May 3 this year against Afghan and NATO- led troops stationed in Afghanistan.
Taliban launched an attack against Kabul Inter-Continental Hotel, some 5 km east of Qargha lake, in June last year, killing 12 people including a Spanish guest and two policemen. A total of nine attackers were also killed in the attack.
The latest Taliban attack came as Afghan forces and NATO troops have completed the transition of security in the first two of five tranches of provinces and districts across the country where about half of the Afghan population lives.