Seven hours after gunmen stormed the Intercontinental Hotel in Bagh-e-Bala area in Kabul, special forces were still busy battling at least two insurgents holed up in the building.
One security source told TOLOnews journalist Gulabuddin Ghubar at 4am that three attackers had stormed the building. He said one had been killed but special forces were battling two more – one on the third floor and one on the fourth floor of the hotel.
Shortly before 4am an explosion and the sound of rapid gunfire was heard – this after a break of almost two hours of shooting.
The attack started at about 9pm on Saturday night when attackers stormed the hotel through the kitchen and started shooting randomly at staff and guests.
Security forces, including special forces, converged on the area and cordoned it off. Hours later, ambulances and firetrucks were still waiting to get the go ahead to bring out the wounded.
By 4am ambulances had managed to reach some of the wounded and had taken them to the Kabul Emergency hospital and the police hospital.
However, the number of dead has not as yet been disclosed.
During the course of the night, desperate appeals for help were posted on social media platforms by staff and guests who were trapped in the hotel. Every so often one was able to escape and run to safety.
One survivor who escaped spoke to TOLOnews and said the attackers had been randomly firing on the people inside the hotel.
Reuters meanwhile reported that the hotel manager Ahmad Haris Nayab, who escaped unhurt, said the attackers had gotten into the main part of the hotel through a kitchen and people tried to get out amid bursts of gunfire.
The interior ministry’s spokesman Nasrat Rahimi told Reuters that several people had been killed and at least six wounded in the raid.
The attack came just two days after the US embassy in Kabul issued a warning of possible attacks on hotels in Kabul.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.
Many details of the incident were still unclear, but interior ministry spokesman Najib Danish said a private company had taken over security about three weeks ago, Reuters reported.
The US State Department meanwhile told Reuters it was monitoring the situation and was in contact with Afghan authorities to determine whether any US citizens had been affected.
Captain Tom Gresback, spokesman for the NATO-led Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, said they were also watching closely but it was not clear whether international forces took part in suppressing the attack.