Taliban Attack at Resort Hotel Near Kabul Kills 20
QARGHA LAKE, Afghanistan – Twenty people were killed when seven Taliban militants shot their way into a much-visited lakeside resort here and took scores of hostages during an 11-hour siege, Afghan officials said on Friday.The 20 victims included the hotel’s manager, several private security guards and a police officer, officials said, and the seven attackers died as Afghan security forces fought their way into the compound. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that Afghans drank alcohol there and that there was prostitution and dancing. “These acts are illegal and strictly prohibited in Islam,” said Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman. He added that: “Women dancers were sexually misused there.”
Police officials described the sprawling resort at Qargha lake and the Spozhmai hotel, where the drama unfolded, as a daunting place to mount a rescue operation because it is wooded and provides easy cover for attackers. “There are lots of trees; it’s like a jungle, which makes it difficult for us to spot the attackers,” said a security official as the siege unfolded. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the news media.
In addition to the main hotel, the resort includes at least one other hotel and numerous small cottages.
“The Afghan security forces managed to evacuate 250 to 300 customers at the hotel in the initial hours of the attack and in the morning we resumed our operation and so far we’ve managed to rescue 40 more hostages including women and children,” said General Ayoub Salangi, the Kabul police chief.
“We also rescued four men who were stuck in the water,” he said, referring to guests at the hotel who jumped into the lake in the initial moments of the attack. Because they could not swim, they clung to a stone wall, immersed in the chilly mountain waters until they were fished out by police in the morning.
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