This was the safest hotel in Kabul, where UN workers, journalists, and foreign diplomats stayed. The gunmen got in because of a lapse in security: probably someone who was sympathetic to the Taliban’s jihad got onto the security staff. After all, there is absolutely no way to prevent such a thing.
“Pictured: Journalist who was gunned down alongside his young family at Kabul’s ‘safest restaurant’ after four teenage Taliban with mini pistols in their socks open fire,” by Luke Garratt and Emily Kent Smith for the Daily Mail, March 20 (thanks to Thomas):
An Agence France-Press journalist, his wife and two young children are among the nine dead after four teenage Taliban with mini pistols hidden in their socks opened fire in a Kabul hotel yesterday.
Reporter Sardar Ahmad, 40, had been based in Kabul and was at the Serena hotel with his three children and wife Humaira when Taliban gunmen stormed into the building and killed nine people.
Mr Ahmad’s youngest son is believed to have survived the attack and is said to have undergone emergency treatment.
The shooting happened at the luxury hotel which is used by U.N. staff and prominent Afghan politicians in Kabul.
Today, AFP colleagues paid tribute to the journalist describing him as ‘charming’ and ‘talented’.
An obituary to the journalist read: ‘Shocked colleagues of Sardar Ahmad, the senior reporter in AFP’s Kabul bureau, Friday mourned the loss of a charming and talented journalist equally at ease covering Afghanistan’s wrenching conflict as with colourful tales including a lion who lived on a roof.’
The Gathering of Afghan Journalists Group released a statement on the ‘tragic’ events in which they described the attack as ‘cowardly’. A tribute was paid to the ‘experienced’ and ‘renowned’ journalist.
‘This incident comes despite the fact that Afghan journalists have assiduously tried to remain neutral in their coverage amid difficult circumstances.
‘In this attack, the Taliban deliberately and ruthlessly targeted civilians, shooting women and innocent children around the dinner table,’ a statement read.
The assault on the heavily fortified Serena Hotel, which lasted some three hours, was the latest in a string of attacks by the insurgents seeking to spoil a presidential election on April 5.
The gunmen were shot dead by security forces, witnesses and police said on Friday.
The election would mark the first time in Afghanistan’s history that one elected government hands power to another.
Four Taliban fighters snuck past security early on Thursday evening, at around 6pm, and hid inside the building for three hours before opening fire on diners inside the hotel’s restaurant, according to interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi.
They then battled Afghan special forces as terrified guests hid in rooms or fled to hotel bunkers.
All the Taliban gunmen were shot dead.
During the attack guests crouched in bathrooms with the lights turned off as they listened to gunfire and people running up and down the hallways.
An Afghan security personnel keeping watch near the Serena hotel. Security forces surrounded the hotel while a fast response unit entered the hotel to combat the gunmen
‘I never heard an explosion or anything. Only firearms and possible rocket-propelled grenades,’ one senior U.N. official said in a text message from his darkened room.
One of the hotel’s main saferooms, which was packed with guests and Afghan members of parliament, filled with smoke from a fire in the kitchen.
‘It was hard to breathe. People started putting wet napkins on their faces,’ one witness said.
A total of nine were killed the foreigners that died were from Canada, India, New Zealand and Pakistan, the interior ministry said.
All the 18 U.N. staff members known to be inside had been accounted for, according to a U.N. official.
Sardar Ahmad is pictured here celebrating with colleagues and friends at a local bowling alley in Kabul.
Police are investigating how the gunmen got into the Serena.
The hotel has dozens of armed guards patrolling its perimeter, and anyone entering is checked with metal detectors and body searched for weapons.
‘Our first conclusion is that unfortunately that was a failure by that security and measures that were in place,’ Sediqqi said, showing reporters photos of pistols roughly the size of a packet of cigarettes and piles of ammunition.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack and said the gunmen had targeted guests celebrating the eve of the Afghan new year on Friday.
‘Suicide bombers have entered the Serena Hotel, heavy battle is underway, enemies suffered heavy casualties,’ the Taliban spokesman said in a text message.
The Serena hotel has been attacked several times during the Taliban insurgency, but Thursday’s assault was the deadliest so far.
In 2008, gunmen disguised as police stormed the hotel and opened fire on guests inside its gym, killing six.
Despite its history as a targeted location, the Serena’s restaurant was one of the few places in Kabul where foreign officials were still permitted to dine.
The prohibition was established following a Taliban attack in January on a Lebanese restaurant that killed 21 people, including three U.N. staff and the International Monetary Fund’s top representative in Afghanistan.
A U.N. spokesman told Reuters that the attack would not stop the organization from providing support for the April election.
‘This doesn’t deter us from our commitment to assist the Afghan people and support them in the election,’ said Ari Gaitanis.
The Taliban has vowed to kill anyone associated with next month’s presidential elections, which take place on April 5 and marks the first time one elected government hands power to another in the history of Afghanistan.
Their primary targets have been polling staff, voters and security forces, in the run up to the event which has already been badly marred by violence….