Karzai says NATO military equipment causes pollution. Would he rather have waited for a hot air balloon to help clear out the Taliban? An update on this story. “Attack on hotel in Kabul ends with deaths of 7 Taliban, 11 others,” from CNN, June 28:
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) — Seven Taliban attacked Kabul’s Hotel Inter-Continental in a brazen, carefully orchestrated operation that began Tuesday night and continued into Wednesday, ending with their deaths and those of 11 other people some six hours after it began, police said.
“We are still searching the hotel; the death number may increase,” said Chief of Criminal Investigations Mohammad Zahir on Wednesday morning. Twelve people were wounded or injured, he added.
“The situation is secure,” Interior Minister Bismullah Khan said. By then, the top floor of the hotel was ablaze, but within a couple of hours, the flames were gone, though smoke continued to rise from the wreckage.
Two security personnel were killed in the attack, he said.
By dawn, security forces were allowing reporters to approach the hotel, and some guests were seen departing.
Saiz Ahmed, a U.S. citizen in Kabul for a Ph.D. project, was among them. “I’m sure none of us thought we were going to make it,” he said after having stayed on the floor of his darkened bedroom for more than five hours listening to gunfire and occasional bomb blasts. “I wrote my little will — just in case.”
The Taliban penetrated the hotel’s typically heavy security in the attack, and one of them detonated an explosion on the second floor, said Erin Cunningham, a journalist for The Daily in Kabul.
Rocket-propelled grenades were launched from the roof of the hotel toward the first vice president’s house. A few moments later, the hotel was rocked by three explosions, one of which knocked her off her feet, Cunningham said. U.S. forces were on the scene, she added.
At about 2 a.m., four hours after the attack began, International Security Assistance Force helicopters fired at insurgents on the roof, killing as many as three of the gunmen, ISAF spokesman Maj. Tim James told CNN.
An hour later, ISAF said the Afghan security forces had cleared the roof and were clearing the rest of the hotel.
At 4 a.m., police believed that all the attackers were dead, “but one was alive and hidden, and he started to resist” and continued to do so until 6:20 a.m., Zahir said.
At least one of the attackers detonated his explosives, said Afghan Lt. Gen. Mohammad Ayoub Salangi, the city’s chief of police.
A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabiullah Mujahid, said in an e-mail that the suicide attackers entered the hotel after killing the security guards at the entrance.
“One of the suicide attackers told us on the phone that they are in the lobby and chasing guests into their rooms by smashing the doors of the rooms,” Mujahid told CNN in an e-mail he sent as the incident was unfolding….