Afghan Officials: Gunmen Attack Kabul Hotel, Battling Security Forces

The Inter Continental Hotel is situated on a hill overlooking Kabul

A group of as many as four gunmen attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in the Afghan capital Kabul and were exchanging fire with security forces on Saturday as residents and staff fled.

Some reports say the hotel had been hosting an IT conference. An official told Reuters the attackers seemed to include suicide bombers.

An unidentified Afghan intelligence official was quoted by AFP as saying there were four attackers inside the building who were "shooting at guests".

Another official said the attackers were armed with small weapons and rocket-propelled grenades when they blasted their way into the hotel, which often hosts weddings, conferences and political gatherings.

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There was no immediate claim of responsibility for this attack.

The Intercontinental was targeted in June 2011 when a suicide attack claimed by the Taliban killed 21 people, including 10 civilians. "We don't know the details of casualties yet but they set the kitchen on fire", interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told AFP. "Afghan National Defense and Security Forces are leading the response efforts". No group has yet claimed that attack. "According to initial reports, no Resolute Support or (US forces) members were injured in this incident", he said in an emailed statement.

The State Department said it was monitoring the situation and was in contact with Afghan authorities to determine whether any U.S. citizens had been affected.

After repeated attacks in Kabul, notably an incident in May a year ago in which a truck bomber outside the German embassy killed at least 150 people, security has been further tightened in government and diplomatic areas.

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