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Jun 28, 2011 | 19:05 GMT

3 mins read

Suicide Bombers Attack a Kabul Hotel

A group of suicide bombers attacked the Intercontinental Hotel (which is not affiliated with the InterContinental Hotels Group) in Kabul at about 10 p.m. on June 28, detonating at least one explosive device, according to Kabul's head of criminal investigations, Mohammed Zahir. Zahir said at least three suicide bombers were armed with small arms and heavy weapons and at some point entered the hotel. A Taliban spokesman later confirmed that as many as six Taliban fighters were responsible for the attack, which has reportedly killed as many as 10 people. The details of the attack remain unclear as reports continue to emerge. Notably, the hotel is frequented by foreigners and the hotel restaurant was full of patrons at the time of the attack. Kabul has been relatively quiet of late; the last reported attack was against the Afghan Defense Ministry in April. It is also the first strike against a hotel in Kabul since the Feb. 14 attack at the Safi Landmark hotel, which resulted in the deaths of two security guards. According to STRATFOR sources, the suicide bombing was followed by an armed assault, with the militants storming out of a vehicle after one suicide bomber detonated inside the hotel building. Afghan security forces armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades countered this assault, though local media reports indicate the gunfight is ongoing. Roads to the hotel have been cordoned off, isolating the fighting as much as possible. The hotel is situated at the top of a winding road with several security perimeters between the entrance and the open-air restaurant on the main floor in the rear, according to STRATFOR sources. However, it is unclear how rigorous these checkpoints are, and the Afghans have an inherent challenge with infiltration. It is difficult to ascertain the scale of the attack, given that many significant details, including the number of attackers and the death toll, are unconfirmed. The Serena hotel, which is frequented by more Westerners, has been the subject of similar attacks by militants using small arms and suicide bombers in the past, including one in January 2008 that killed eight people. However, STRATFOR sources have said the Serena hotel has better security than the Intercontinental Hotel. The ultimate toll of the attack and the speed and effectiveness of the Afghan security forces' response is not yet clear, but the most important question is who, if anyone, may have been the target for this particular attack, given that the hotel is a possible meeting area for foreigners and government contractors.

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