Taliban in guesthouse massacre

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A Briton was among 14 people killed in an attack by the Taliban on a guesthouse in Kabul, Afghanistan, the Foreign Office has confirmed.

At least nine foreigners died when gunmen stormed the restaurant of the Park Palace Hotel in the Afghan capital on Wednesday.

The hotel was hosting a party for foreigners, and authorities said the victims were killed during a lengthy siege that ended yesterday.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “With regret, we can confirm that a British dual national was killed in last night’s attack on a Kabul guest house.

“The next of kin have been informed and we are providing consular assistance.”

An American, an Italian and four Indians are also known to have died when gunmen stormed the building. The nationalities of the two other foreigners is not yet known.

Five Afghans were among the dead – four men and one woman – and seven were wounded, including one Afghan policeman. At least 54 hostages were rescued during the siege, Afghan officials said.

The Taliban has admitted responsibility for the attack, with the group’s spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid telling media via email that they targeted the hotel because foreigners were there.

The hotel has both guest rooms for visitors and a residential area for those who live full-time in Kabul, including foreign aid workers.

The UN mission in Afghanistan condemned the assault, saying in a statement that it was an “atrocity”.

“Taliban statements on avoiding civilian casualties ring hollow when we set them against the latest killings,” said UNAMA’s human rights director Georgette Gagnon.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. The group’s spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said only one attacker was involved, armed with a Kalashnikov rifle, a suicide vest and a 
pistol – not three as the Afghan government reported. The Taliban often exaggerate their 
claims.

Afghan police kept the hotel cordoned off yesterday. Earlier, they said all the attackers were killed in the shootout with security troops.

The attack began at around 8.30pm local time when the gunmen opened fire at the hotel restaurant, according to Kabul police chief General Abdul Rahman Rahimi.

Amin Habib, a US citizen from Los Angeles, told the Associated Press that a party was going on at the hotel to honour a Canadian when the gunmen stormed the guesthouse.

He said dozens of people were inside the hotel at the time.

Afghan president Ashraf Ghani also condemned the attack.

In a statement from his office, Mr Ghani said he had also spoken to the leaders of the nations whose citizens were so brutally killed in the Taliban assault.