Ed Driscoll

Breaking: Taliban Attack Kabul Hotel, Ten Reported Dead

At Hot Air, Allahpundit writes:

In progress as I write this. Sounds … Mumbai-esque.

A group of suicide bombers attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul Tuesday, and fighting was ongoing with Afghan security forces, Chief of Criminal Investigation Mohammed Zahir told CNN.

A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabiullah Mujahid, said a group of Taliban bombers was responsible for the 10 p.m. attack on the hotel, which is popular among international guests. There were no immediate details on casualties.

The hotel is located on a hill on the outskirts of Kabul and is typically protected by heavy security. A news conference was scheduled to take place Wednesday in the hotel to discuss the planned transition of security from international to Afghan forces.

The hotel’s power has reportedly been cut, presumably by the bombers. Why they’d bother doing that if this is a simple suicide-bomb mission, I’m not sure. Alternate theory: Like Mumbai, this is not a simple suicide-bomb mission.

Associated Press reporters at the scene heard bursts of gunfire and saw shooting from the roof of the five-story Inter-Continental hotel that sits on a hill overlooking the city. Police ordered bystanders to lay on the ground for safety. There was no immediate word on casualties in the rare, nighttime attack in the Afghan capital.

A guest who was inside also said he heard gunfire echoing throughout the building. Streets leading to the hotel were blocked and the electricity was out…

Azizullah, an Afghan police officer who uses only one name, told an Associated Press reporter at the scene that at least one bomber entered the hotel and detonated a vest of explosives. Another police officer, who would not disclose his name, said there were at least two suicide bombers.

The Times says there could be as many as six suicide bombers on the scene, and reportedly at least three are carrying light and heavy weapons. According to a Taliban spokesman, who took credit for the attack on behalf of the group, the attackers “are breaking into each room and they are targeting the 300 Afghans and foreigners who are staying.” Systematic murder, in other words, not indiscriminate explosions; presumably, they’re wearing vests in case they’re cornered by U.S. and Afghan troops and want to take a few with them at the moment of truth.

The Christian Science Monitor reports the attack “appears to have left at least 10 people dead,” but as Allah noted this is very much a still-developing situation.

Ace adds, “the Intercontinental chain is a brand name. They like going after things with brand names,” which dovetails into this AP report:

The Inter-Continental—known widely as the “Inter-Con” opened in the late 1960s, was the nation’s first international luxury hotel. It has at least 200 rooms and was once part of an international chain. But when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the hotel was left to fend for itself.

Along with pretty much the rest of whatever little infrastructure that otherwise primitive nation had slowly begun to develop in the post-World War II-era.

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