KABUL – Taliban bombers equipped with suicide vests and automatic rifles attacked a hotel and a guesthouse in central Kabul Friday, killing at least 15 people, including four Indian nationals, officials said.
A series of explosions occurred at the City Centre shopping complex and the Safi Landmark hotel, about 300 metres from the Interior Ministry, said Abdul Ghafar Sayedzadar, a senior police official.
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said by phone from an undisclosed location that five Taliban bombers attacked two compounds used by foreigners.
“Our two bombers have been killed and three others are still resisting,” he said. “Around 100 foreigners are surrounded by our forces in one of the compounds.”
His claim, however, was rejected by Sayedzadar, who said all the attackers were dead and the area was fully under the control of Afghan security forces, adding that 16 or 17 people were killed in the attack.
Siamak Herawi, a presidential spokesman, said four Indian nationals were killed in bombings of their residence located in front of the shopping mall.
General Ahmad Zia Yaftali, chief doctor for the Afghan army, said 12 bodies were taken to army hospitals and three were taken to another hospital.
“Eight Indians and one Pakistani national were among the wounded,” he said.
Farid Rahid, a spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health, said more than 30 people were injured in the attack.
The private television channel Tolo TV said the attack targeted a guesthouse for Indians next to the shopping complex. Several people were killed, the report said.
A policeman at the scene said he saw four bodies being taken away from the guesthouse but could not say whether the victims had been Indians or Afghans.
A reporter for the German Press Agency dpa at the scene said police surrounded the shopping complex after a series of explosions and an exchange of heavy gunfire took place.
Another policeman said explosions caused by several hand grenades had damaged two guesthouses and a
hotel. At least two suicide bombers were involved in the attack, said the policeman, who was at the scene and asked not to be named.
An Interior Ministry spokesman confirmed that several blasts had taken place. “The area is under control of the police, and police are searching for the attackers,” he said.
Pools of blood could be seen on the ground, the dpa reporter said. The ground was also covered with broken glass from the explosions.
Few people were on the streets on the rainy morning, a public holiday.
The Safi Landmark hotel on the top floor of the shopping centre is popular with Westerners. The area under attack is in the central, most fortified part of Kabul.
On January 18, Taliban fighters attacked government facilities in the capital in a standoff that lasted several hours. At
least 12 people, among them seven Taliban, were killed in that attack.