Taliban Militants Kill 10 Civilians in Kabul Hotel Attack

Posted June 29th, 2011 at 7:15 am (UTC-5)
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Afghan officials say 10 Afghan civilians were killed Tuesday night when heavily armed Taliban militants stormed a luxury hotel in the capital, Kabul.

The officials said the five-hour siege of the InterContinental Hotel ended after all nine of the suicide bombers either blew themselves up or were killed by security forces early Wednesday.

The attack, which also wounded eight people, came on the eve of a conference to discuss the gradual handover of security in Afghanistan to Afghan forces.

Officials say most of the dead were hotel workers, but included at least two Afghan policemen.

NATO said two of its helicopters were called in and killed three of the militants, who had taken up positions on the roof of the hotel.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the group was targeting foreign guests. Some of the security conference attendees were staying at the hotel.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the attack will not stop the security transition process.

In Washington, the U.S. State Department condemned the Taliban attack and said the action once again demonstrated the terrorists’ complete disregard for human life. The State Department extended condolences to the families of the victims and indicated that all U.S. diplomatic staff were safe.

Afghan forces are due to take security control of seven areas in Afghanistan beginning in July.

All foreign combat troops are expected to complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan and transfer security control to local forces by the end of 2014.

U.S. President Barack Obama announced last week that 10,000 U.S. troops will be pulled out by the end of this year, with 23,000 more leaving Afghanistan by September 2012.