American among foreigners killed in Kabul hotel attack

Afghan security forces inspect the site of a Park Palace Hotel attack by Taliban militants, in Kabul, Afghanistan
Afghan security forces inspect the site of a Park Palace Hotel attack by Taliban militants, in Kabul, Afghanistan  Photo: AP
Rob Crilly
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At least one American citizen was among the dead when Taliban gunmen stormed a guesthouse in the Afghan capital Kabul, setting off a five-hour siege and gun battle.

Police said five people were killed in the attack and five more wounded.

It is the latest attack to target a location used by foreigners in Kabul, as insurgent groups look to wrest the initiative from government forces after Nato-led combat troops left the country last year.

Witnesses said three gunmen wearing suicide vests had gained entrance to the hotel during a party.

Afghan security forces inspect the site of a Park Palace Hotel attack by Taliban militants, in Kabul, Afghanistan (AP)

"There was a concert planned to take place inside the Park Palace tonight, with foreigners, mainly Indian and Turkish guests, invited," an Afghan intelligence official told the AFP news agency on condition of anonymity.

"The attack started before the concert. We believe three to five gunmen managed to sneak into the guesthouse."

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The Park Palace comprises dozens of rooms, arranged around tree-shaded courtyards.

Although the gardens are popular with visitors, they also mean attackers could gain access to rooms through their large windows.

The guesthouse was due to host a concert by Altaf Hussain, a well-known Afghan classical singer.

Pic: A pic before just the party starts in Park Palace guest house. #klolaposhta #Kabul #Kabulattack pic.twitter.com/g6YhZYTdjq

— Rateb Noori (@RatebNoori) May 13, 2015

Amin Habi, an American from Los Angeles, told The Associated Press that a party was going on at the hotel to honour a Canadian when the gunmen arrived. He said as many as 40 people, including foreigners and Americans, could still be inside.

For five hours, the sounds of gunfire and explosions reverberated through the neighbourhood, until security forces declared the siege over and all the gunmen dead.

The US embassy confirmed in an email statement that an Americanc itizen was killed and it extended condolences to the victim's family.

Last year, several venues used by foreigners were targeted in the run-up to presidential elections, suggesting the Taliban and their affiliated groups were looking for softer targets.

In March, four teenage Taliban gunmen managed to smuggle weapons into the Serena Hotel, where they killed nine people, including women and children.

In January a suicide squad blasted their way into a Lebanese restaurant, killing 21 people. Two Britons were among the dead.

The latest attack came just a day after Pakistan's prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, visited Kabul to promise Islamabad's full support in its battle against the Taliban, saying "the enemies of Afghanistan cannot be the friends of Pakistan".

Pakistan has frequently been accused of harbouring Taliban groups to use as an unofficial arm of foreign policy.

Source : telegraph[dot]co[dot]uk
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