Four teenage Taliban gunmen opened fire inside a luxury hotel in Kabul before being shot dead, officials said, adding that three people were wounded as guests rushed to reinforced safe rooms.
Just weeks before Afghanistan’s presidential election, the attackers last evening hid small pistols in their socks and penetrated several layers of security at the Serena hotel, a prestigious venue favoured by foreign visitors to the Afghan capital.
“I heard some gunshots, and we all were taken by guards to the safe rooms,” a front-desk clerk told AFP.
The Taliban, who have vowed a campaign of violence to disrupt the election on April 5, claimed responsibility for the attack.
No guests were reported to have been injured as intense bursts of gunfire erupted inside the hotel and security forces rushed to the scene.
“The four young attackers entered the hotel at about 6:00 pm pretending to be guests and started to attack at 9:00 pm,” Sediq Sediqqi, the interior ministry spokesman, told reporters, adding the gunmen were all under 18 years old.
“Two guards have been taken to hospital, as well as one foreign employee of the hotel. All four attackers were gunned down, two of them after they resisted in a bathroom in the hotel.”
Jane Ferguson, an Al Jazeera TV journalist staying at the hotel, said on Twitter she had “just got out of Serena hotel safe. Horrible few hours with furniture against my door.”
The attack occurred on the eve of Nawroz, the Persian New Year which is a major holiday in Afghanistan, and the hotel was hosting special celebrations.
The Serena, the most upmarket accommodation in Kabul, has been targeted by militants in the past, including a Taliban suicide attack in 2008 that left eight people dead.