2018 Inter-Continental Hotel Kabul attack
|2018 Inter-Continental Hotel Kabul attack|
|Part of the War in Afghanistan|
The Hotel Inter-Continental Kabul, where the attack took place
|Date||20 January 2018|
|Target||Foreign citizens and Afghan government officials|
|Shooting, hostage taking, arson|
|Deaths||42 (+6 attackers)|
On 20 January 2018, a group of four or five gunmen attacked the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul, Afghanistan, sparking a 12-hour battle. The attack left at least 42 people dead and more than 14 others injured, with reports that the death toll might rise to 43.
Kabul is held by the NATO-supported Afghan government, though both the Taliban and Islamic State were able to launch destructive attacks on the capital in the preceding months, including a deadly suicide bombing less than a month prior to the Inter-Continental raid.
On 20 January 2018, around 21:00 local time gunmen armed with light weapons and rocket-propelled grenades had stormed the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul, opening fire and taking hostages. It is believed the gunmen targeted foreigners.
Some hotel guests tried to escape the gunmen by tying bed sheets together and climbing down from the upper floors of the building, which was partially set on fire. Afghan special forces were lowered by helicopters onto the hotel's roof in an attempt to neutralize the attackers. Later soldiers from the Afghan National Army with the assistance of Norwegian special forces from the Marinejegerkommandoen responded to the attack and exchanged gunfire with gunmen in the hotel.
Afghan officials said the attack was over by the morning hours of 21 January, with 4 attackers and at least 18 others killed, including 14 foreigners. More than 160 people had been rescued from the hotel, while a number of others remained missing. These included 16 employees of Afghan airline Kam Air, which announced that 11 out of the 42 people working for the company who had been present were killed during the attack, while 15 others survived.
“The attack was carried out by Pakistan based Haqqani network,” the Afghan government said, but stopped short of providing evidence. At least two senior Afghan officials said the country’s intelligence agency had reports that the Haqqani Network, an arm of the Taliban, had planned the violence yet has not publicly released that information. The Taliban later claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement, warning Afghan civilians to avoid locations frequented by foreigners. Weeks prior to the attack, U.S. President Donald Trump suspended military aid to Pakistan accusing it of providing a safe haven for terrorist groups who attack in Afghanistan. On January 22, Trump pressured Pakistan to expel the Taliban and Haqqani leaders.
The Afghan interior ministry said a private firm had assumed responsibility for securing the Intercontinental Hotel around three weeks before. The ministry said it was investigating how the attackers had managed to enter the building. 34 provincial officials were gathered at the hotel to participate in a conference organized by the Telecommunication Ministry. An official at that ministry said that more than 100 IT managers and engineers were on site when the attack took place.
Members of the Afghan parliament criticized the fact that the hotel's security was in the hands of a private company. Parliament plans to hold a special session regarding this issue.
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Two were identified as Venezuelan pilots. Six Ukrainians and a citizen from Kazakhstan were among the dead.
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Kabul police told the BBC that nine Ukrainians, one German, one Greek and one Kazakh citizen had been confirmed dead. Two have yet to be identified. Afghan airline Kam Air says a number of its employees were killed and some are still missing.