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KABUL HOTEL UNDER ATTACKS, LEFT 19 DEAD


Smoke and flames rise from the Intercontinental hotel during a battle between Nato-led forces and suicide bombers and Taliban insurgents in Kabul
KABUL, Afghanistan - Nato helicopters fired rockets before dawn Wednesday at Taliban gunmen who stormed one of Afghanistan's premier hotels, ending a brazen, nearly five-hour assault that left 19 people dead, including all eight attackers.
The strike against the Inter-Continental was one of the biggest and most complex to have occurred within Kabul and appeared designed to show that the insurgents are capable of striking even in the center of power at a time when US officials are speaking of progress in the nearly 10-year war.
  • It occurred less than a week after President Barack Obama announced the beginning of an American withdrawal and the transfer of security responsibility to the Afghans in several areas, including most of Kabul province.
  • Militants who had managed to penetrate the hotel's security measures began the attack around 10pm Tuesday, on the eve of a conference about the transfer of security responsibilities.
  • After hours of fighting, two Nato helicopters opened fire at about 3 a.m. on the roof of the five-story hotel where militants had taken up positions. US Army Maj. Jason Waggoner, a spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting in Afghanistan, said the helicopters killed three gunmen and Afghan security forces clearing the hotel worked their way up to the roof and engaged the insurgents.
  • A Spanish citizen was among 11 civilians killed in the early hours of Wednesday when Taliban militants stormed a leading Kabul hotel, a Spanish foreign ministry official said.
  • "We have official confirmation that there is a Spaniard among the dead," the official said, declining to provide further details.
The man was a pilot for a Turkish airline who was injured in the attack and died shortly afterwards, according to unconfirmed reports in the El Mundo daily and the news wire Europa Press.
Source: Agency
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