Suicide bombers target Afghan hotel

Afghan police say Taliban suicide bombers have attacked a lakeside hotel north of Kabul, and that militants armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades have taken hostages and are continuing to fight Afghan security forces there.

Afghan police say Taliban suicide bombers have attacked a lakeside hotel north of Kabul, and that militants armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades have taken hostages and are continuing to fight Afghan security forces there.

Kabul police criminal director Mohammad Zahir said three suicide bombers attacked the hotel at Qargha Lake at around 11pm local time last night.

He added the Taliban have taken hostages.

There were civilian casualties but details were not immediately available.

The fighting was still under way early this morning.

Kabul police chief Mohammad Ayub Salangi said at least one policeman has been killed.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said they attacked the hotel because foreigners were there drinking and participating in other activities banned by Islam.

Eighteen people, including women and children, have been rescued from the hotel and two of the attackers are dead, said General Kadam Shah Shayem, a commander with the Afghan National Army in Kabul.

Four guests jumped out of a window at the two-storey hotel and crouched in a lake to hide from the attackers, Gen Shayem said.

“Our forces have surrounded the area,” he said. “There is still shooting. We are being very careful because there still are people – civilians – inside the hotel.”

There were civilian casualties, but details were not immediately available.

The US-led coalition was supporting Afghan security forces who responded to the attack, the coalition said. A photographer at the scene said coalition helicopters were circling over the site.

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