Taliban gunmen hide guns in socks before attacking luxury Kabul hotel

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Four foreigners were among the nine victims of an attack at a luxury hotel in Afghanistan's capital on Thursday evening (March 20), according to a BBC report.

The Afghan government, has blamed the Kabul attack on Pakistan's ceasefire with the Taliban, saying it has enabled the militants to focus their attention on Afghanistan.

The four gunmen who carried out the attack, all reportedly aged under 18, were killed by Afghan security forces.

The militants arrived at the Serena hotel at around 6 p.m. with guns hidden in their socks. They went through security checks claiming to be diners at the hotel's special buffet, according to an AFP report.

Once inside the hotel, they hid in one of the bathrooms for around three hours. At 9 p.m. they entered the hotel's restaurant and opened fire on guests and hotel personnel.

Outside the hotel, the Afghan Crisis Response Unit quickly put up a heavy cordon and once inside engaged in a more than an hour-long battle which ended with in the deaths of all four attackers.

Terrified guests fled the restaurant, hid in their rooms or found shelter in safety bunkers around the complex, the New York Times reported.

Jane Ferguson, an Al Jazeera television journalist staying at the hotel, said on Twitter that she "just got out of Serena hotel safe. Horrible few hours with furniture against my door."

The foreign nationals killed were from Canada, India, New Zealand and Pakistan, according to Reuters. Four women, three men and two children were killed in the attack.

Six others were wounded in the shootings, Deputy Interior Minister General Mohammad Ayub Salangi was quoted by the BBC as saying. An Afghan MP, Habib Afghan, was shot in the face, stomach and leg and is now recovering in a hospital.
The Taliban has since claimed responsibility for the attack.

The hotel lies in the centre of Kabul, less than 1 kilometer from the presidential palace.

A popular destination for wealthy visitors in Kabul, it has been one of the most frequent targets of the Taliban, and it has been successfully attacked several times before, the BBC reported.

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