Hotel Inter-Continental Kabul
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2012)|
|Opening||9 September 1969|
|Number of rooms||200|
|Number of restaurants||4|
The Inter-Continental (also known as the Inter-Con) is a five stars hotel located in the Kârte Parwân neighbourhood in western Kabul, Afghanistan. It served as the nation's first international luxury hotel, one of the most visited by foreigners since its opening in 1969. The hotel has 200 rooms and is equipped with a swimming pool, a gym, and about four restaurants for dine in or room service.
Construction started on the hotel in April 1967 and was opened for business on 9 September 1969. While originally developed by the InterContinental Hotels Group and built by Taylor Woodrow construction from the United Kingdom, the Inter-Continental Hotel has had no association with InterContinental Hotels Group since the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. It continues to use the name and logo without connection to the parent company.
During the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan, it was used as officers quarters and during the 1990s civil war it began receiving damage due to street warfare by militia men. In 1996, only 85 of the hotel's 200 rooms were habitable due to damage from rockets and shells. It was extensively used by western journalists during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 as it was the only large-sized hotel still operating in the capital at the time.
In 2003 the hotel pool had no water and the gym was missing all of its furniture. The hotel had several power cuts per day. There were still bullet holes throughout the building, including the windows of the restaurant on the first floor. The furniture in the rooms was simple but clean. In February 2003, a British intelligence agent Colin Berry who had been involved in the recovery of surface-to-air missiles and other covert operations was involved in a gun battle in the hotel. As a result two Afghans were killed.
The hotel went through a $25 million renovation by a Dubai based company.[which?] It is the landmark used at the start of the Hash House Harriers weekly events. Today, the rooms are decorated according to international standard, equipped with air conditioner, heater, TV, mini-bar, phone and radio. English, German and French TV channels are also available. It has an internet cafe located in the basement. The telephone system is still operated by its original old manual switchboard, which was manufactured by Siemens.
From 2005 to 2007, the top floor Presidential suite has been converted and used as office space by the Senlis Council, a European advocacy group (since then rebranded as The International Council on Security and Development (Icos). All Senlis Council expat staff was based in the hotel.
Sixty to seventy guests were believed to be staying at the hotel at the time of the attacks. Thirty provincial government officials were staying at the hotel to attend a briefing about the transition of security responsibilities from the U.S. Military to the Afghan security forces. Most of the hotel's guests were in the hotel's dining hall at the time of the attack. Initial reports suggested that a wedding party may also have been hosted in one of the dance halls.
The attackers passed three security checkpoints and made their way to the rear of the hotel under concealment of thick vegetation. The assault on the hotel began at 10:00 p.m. local time armed with assault rifles, hand grenades, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, machine guns, and anti-aircraft weapons. Armed Afghan law enforcement personnel fled the area and failed to engage the attackers. Nine attackers were captured on surveillance camera entering through the rear hotel garden where only two guards were stationed during a dinner for hotel guests. Suicide vests were detonated at the entrance to the hotel and on the second floor. Two dance halls were destroyed in the initial attack. The attackers then ascended to the fifth floor. Exchanges of weapon fire between law enforcement occurred until the early morning hours.
Hotel guests were told to barricade themselves in their rooms. Others escaped by jumping from the hotel's windows. Civilians were instructed by security forces to stay in their homes. One civilian observed a militant sniper firing and rapidly adjusting his position to avoid counter fire.
Entry forces ascended the first two floors killing a militant in the process. The security forces attempted to disarm the explosive vest the attacker was wearing. The attackers took up firing positions on the hotel roof when the fight entered its climactic end. Three combatants on the hotel roof were attacked by two of three circling NATO helicopters. The militant may have been killed in the strike or may have detonated their vests. One U.S. Blackhawk helicopter carried International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) snipers while an MC-12W Liberty and an MQ-1 Predator remotely piloted aircraft provided critical aerial surveillance. Afghan policemen could not be coaxed by police chief, Mohammad Ayoub Salangi to enter the building after the attackers were killed. At one point, an Afghan intelligence official informed the press that it believed it had eliminated all but one militant. One injured suicide bomber hid in a hotel room and ambushed and killed a Spanish pilot after the declared conclusion of operations.
Among the wounded were five Afghan policemen and thirteen civilians. Five hotel staff including one hotel security guard and a hotel chef, and three policemen were killed. Electricity to the hotel was restored after the end of military operations, and a scheduled briefing on the transition of security responsibilities from the U.S. Military to the Afghan security forces proceeded the next day.
Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid claimed Taliban responsibility for the attack and lauded the militants that killed "dozens of the foreign and local top-level officials". The Long War Journal reported that the attack was carried out by the "Kabul Attack Network". According to the Journal, the network was an ad-hoc organization with insurgents and operatives from Afghan and Pakistani Taliban groups, the Haqqani network, Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin, and with support from Lashkar-e-Taiba and al Qaeda. The network is led by Dawood (also spelled Daud), the Taliban's shadow governor for Kabul, and Taj Mir Jawad, a leader in the Haqqani network. The Journal also stated that the organization is sometimes assisted by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
The ISAF believes that the operation was supplied by the Haqqani network. Ismail Jan, Deputy to the senior Haqqani commander, was killed in an airstrike in Paktia province which borders Pakistan's FATA a day after the attack.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Inter-Continental.|
- Intercontinental Hotel: Official Site
- The Survival Guide to Kabul photographs
- Afghanistan Hotel Under Attack — slideshow by Life magazine