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Entries in Intercontinental Hotel (4)

Friday
Jul012011

Exclusive: NATO Stopped Hotel Attack, Afghan Police Say

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- In the most extensive account yet provided of the recent siege of Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel, Afghan police and hotel officials described how a relatively undisciplined group of suicide bombers kept Afghan forces at bay for hours -- and was only subdued thanks to a NATO helicopter and NATO special forces operating inside the hotel.

Their descriptions contradict NATO officials' claims that its forces were barely needed and that Afghan forces secured the hotel themselves. The revelations come as Afghan forces are expected to take over security operations from the U.S. in seven cities or areas of Afghanistan starting later this month.

For the first time, a senior police official admitted that his forces could not have retaken the hotel without the help of international troops shooting down onto the roof from the helicopter. He also admitted that one of his men accidentally shot and wounded a New Zealand special forces soldier who was in the hotel embedded with the Afghan police. An intelligence official also acknowledged that initially, none of the Afghan police who guard the hotel responded to the attackers in any way.

The Afghan officials gave ABC News a tour of the hotel where suicide bombers blew themselves up in hallways, stairwells, and rooms, blanketing the hotel with the stench of rotten flesh. The top floor conference room is completely burned out and the roof is scarred with dozens of pock marks from the suicide attackers' machine guns and from NATO bullets shot from a helicopter.

The officials also described moments during the more than four-hour siege that suggest the team of nine suicide bombers were not as well disciplined as previously believed. A hotel employee said two suicide attackers entered the area around the pool, where hundreds of guests were having dinner, and yelled in Pashto that the guests should all leave. But immediately after, a third attacker appeared and started shooting at the same guests who had just been warned.

A police official showed a room where a suicide bomber blew himself up. The room belonged to an Afghan politician, but it was empty at the time, and the suicide bomber killed nobody except himself.

In other ways, though, the attackers appeared to have a plan and stuck to it. A hotel official described how one of the suicide bombers entered the hotel and immediately forced a hotel porter to lead three attackers to the roof through a complicated set of stairs. When they arrived, the attackers let the porter go and set up heavy machine guns they used to keep Afghan police and soldiers away from the hotel. They were only killed after the NATO helicopter arrived.

A NATO spokesman defended the action of the Afghan security forces, calling the raid Afghan-led and describing the helicopter as an "an intimidation factor."

"It enabled the Afghan security forces-led operation to be brought to a swifter conclusion," said Maj. Jason Waggoner, a NATO spokesman in Kabul.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jun302011

NATO Kills Haqqani Leader Allegedly Connected to Afghan Hotel Attack

U.S. State Department(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- NATO announced Thursday that it has killed the deputy leader of the Haqqani terror network inside Afghanistan. Ismail Jan, who is “suspected of providing material support” to the nine suicide bombers who rampaged through Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel late Tuesday night, was killed in an airstrike.

The military alliance's public declaration that the Haqqani network was behind the attack may put more pressure on Pakistan to crack down on the group, which is run out of the Pakistani tribal area North Waziristan.

According to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the airstrike that killed Jan also killed other Haqqani fighters in Gardez, the provincial capital of Paktiya, in eastern Afghanistan. The ISAF says the intelligence for the operation was received from Afghan government officials, Afghan citizens and “disenfranchised insurgents.”

The ISAF says it has captured or killed more than 80 Haqqani leaders this year.  But despite major pressure on the Pakistani-based group, it is still the most deadly insurgent group in the country, and its ability to attack does not appear to have been significantly downgraded.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun292011

Taliban Launches Deadly Assault on Kabul Hotel

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The Taliban has claimed responsibility for Tuesday's coordinated attack by gunmen and suicide bombers on the heavily-guarded Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul that left at least ten people dead along with the six assailants -- and renewed questions about whether Afghan security forces are up to the task of defending their own interests.

The U.S. State Department, which condemned the brazen assault on the hotel frequented by Westerners and Afghan officials, confirmed that no members of the U.S. diplomatic staff were endangered by the militants.

As it happened, American envoy Marc Grossman and his delegation had already left Afghanistan en route to Washington before the attack occurred.

Two Americans survived the attack.

An estimated 300 national and international officials were attending a meeting at the time of the assault, which reminded some observers of the Nov. 2008 terrorist strike in Mumbai, India, that killed more than 160 people.

According to a Taliban spokesman, the militants were wearing explosive vests and carrying small arms and hand grenades when they penetrated a ring of security protecting the Intercontinental Hotel, boasting that "up to 50 national and international enemy" had been killed. That claim turned out to be false.

Meanwhile, Afghan military units surrounded the building and sent commandos to fight militants, going from floor-to-floor of the hotel. There were reports that they had not requested U.S. forces to participate in the counterstrike. NATO officials later said that its helicopters had killed three militants who were on the roof of the hotel.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun282011

Insurgents Attack Prominent Kabul Hotel

Interncontinental Kabul(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Insurgents in Afghanistan have attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in the capital city of Kabul with as many as six suicide bombers and gunmen, according to initial reports.

At least one suicide bomber blew himself up at the hotel's entrance in an attack that's said to have began around 10:30 p.m. local time. At least four explosions have been reported.

A number of Afghan officials, including provincial governors, were known to have been staying at the Intercontinental Hotel on Tuesday night ahead of a scheduled conference.

The number of casualties was not immediately known.

The hotel and surrounding neighborhood are without power and police have cordoned off the area around the building.

"One of the attackers somehow managed, according to an Afghan intelligence official, to get to the fifth floor, to the roof, from where he's firing at national security forces," said Bilal Sarwary of the BBC, who added that in some ways, the situation appears "unprecedented.”

“First it happened very late in the night. This hotel obviously is very well protected. There are several checkpoints before you could get to the top of the hotel, which lies on a hill. So a lot of questions will be asked," he said.

The Intercontinental Hotel is the most famous hotel in Afghanistan and one of the icons of Kabul, where many Westerners stay and hold meetings.

Story developing...

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio