Nato helicopters have killed three Taliban insurgents on a landmark Kabul hotel’s roof after an attack by suicide bombers and gunmen that reportedly left 10 people dead.Gun battles raged for hours between the attackers and security services during the raid at the Afghan capital’s Intercontinental Hotel.The Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack.”Two International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) helicopters have just engaged three individuals on the roof,” coalition spokesman Major Tim James said.”The indications are that the three individuals on the roof have been killed.”Police told news agencies 10 people had been killed during the raid.Afghan officials said at least four suicide bombers entered the building, at least one of whom reportedly blew himself up.Police fought back with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades during the night-time raid.The US State department has issued a statement confirming “all Chief of Mission personnel are accounted for”.Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack in a phone call to The Associated Press.Times correspondent Jerome Starkey, who is near the hotel, told Sky News he heard short bursts of gunfire, but fighting appeared to have died down by 10pm UK time.Several reports said wedding guests who were celebrating in the building at the time managed to flee the attack, while others got stuck inside.Streets leading to the hotel were blocked and the building was left in darkness after power in the area was cut.Police ordered bystanders to lay on the ground for safety as bursts of gunfire were heard.Initial reports suggested as many six suicide bombers had entered the building, while police said at least four bombers were involved.
A manager at ToloNews TV station in Afghanistan said on Twitter militants had shown “tough resistance” to security forces in a firefight.Jawid, a guest at the hotel, said he jumped out a one-storey window to flee the shooting.He told reporters: “I was running with my family. There was shooting. The restaurant was full with guests.”Bette Dam, a journalist in Kabul, told Sky News she had heard loud explosions.She said rocket-propelled grenades appeared to have been launched from the roof of the hotel towards the house of Afghanistan’s first vice president.
The US-led military coalition said the Afghan Ministry of Interior had not requested any assistance from foreign forces.The venue is one of two hotels popular with Westerners visiting Afghanistan’s capital. It was busy with foreign journalists after the war in the country began in 2001.The hotel, which stands on a hill overlooking the city, is heavily guarded with “airport-style” security and checkpoints.In recent years Intercontinental Kabul, established in 1969, has had to compete for foreign guests with another five-star venue in the city.Attacks in Kabul have been relatively rare in recent times, although violence has increased since the killing of al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in early May. – Skynews