KABUL (TCA) — At least 43 people, including a citizen from Kazakhstan, were killed when six Taliban militants attacked the luxury Intercontinental Hotel in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul on Saturday. Officials said 14 foreigners were among the dead, RFE/RL’s Radio Free Afghanistan reported.
The militants, dressed in army uniforms, launched the assault on the luxury hotel in the Afghan capital in the evening on January 20.
Officials said the gunmen charged through the hallways and sought out foreigners and Afghan officials inside the hotel.
Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said more than 150 people, including 41 foreigners, were rescued or managed to escape during the siege.
Eleven of the 14 foreigners killed were employees of KamAir, a private Afghan airline, Danish said.
Six of those killed were Ukrainians, said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin.
A citizen from Kazakhstan also was among the dead, according to a spokesman for the Kazakh Foreign Ministry.
Among the dead was Ahmad Farzan, an employee of the High Peace Council, a commission tasked with facilitating peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban and other opposition groups.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack at the heavily guarded hotel that is popular with foreigners and Afghan officials.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said the militants first planned to attack the hotel on January 18, but postponed it because a wedding was taking place then and they wanted to avoid civilian casualties.
The Interior Ministry blamed the extremist Haqqani network, which is based in Pakistan and allied with the Taliban.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani ordered an investigation and said militant groups were being helped by neighboring countries.
Afghan officials, along with U.S. President Donald Trump, have accused neighboring Pakistan of providing a safe haven for terrorists operating in Afghanistan, a charge Islamabad denies.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States strongly condemns the attack, adding that Washington “stands with the government and people of Afghanistan. We remain firmly committed to supporting Afghan efforts to achieve peace, security, and prosperity for their country.”
Pakistan also condemned the “brutal terrorist attack” and called for greater cooperation against militants.
The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) strongly condemned the attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, TOLOnews reported.
“There is simply no justification for this egregious attack, which is specifically prohibited by International Humanitarian Law and may amount to a war crime,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan.
“It is a moral outrage that the Taliban entered the hotel with the intention of killing civilians,” said the UN envoy, “All parties to the armed conflict in Afghanistan are bound to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law, at all times.”