An 11 hour gun battle between soldiers and Taliban militants holed up with hostages at a luxury hotel on the outskirts of Kabul left a total of 26 people dead, Afghan authorities say. No Afghan or NATO troops were killed.
The siege began early Friday morning after seven heavily armed militants stormed the Spozhmai resort on Qargha Lake and opened fire. Of the roughly 300 people inside the hotel at the start of the attack, at least 200 people escaped. Fifteen civilians, three hotel security guards and a police officer died in the course of the attack. Militants held fifty other civilians hostage as soldiers descended on the scene. The hostages were eventually freed by military forces. All seven attackers were killed.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the Spozhmai resort was targeted by because foreigners were drinking alcohol and holding “anti-Islamic ceremonies.”
Kabul police criminal director Mohammad Zahir denied Mujahid’s claim. “The Taliban propaganda is saying that there was immoral activity there and that people were drinking alcohol," Zahir said. "That is totally wrong. These are people who had worked all week and had gone to the lake to have a restful dinner with their families. The view there is very good for relaxation. There is no alcohol."
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