Photo by Massoud Hossani/AFP/GettyImages
At least 20 people are dead after Taliban insurgents stormed a popular hotel outside of Kabul early Friday morning, taking dozens of hostages and prompting an 11-hour siege from local police.
There were about 300 customers in the hotel at the time, the New York Times reports. The seven insurgents—all of whom were killed in the siege—entered the Spozhmai Hotel at around midnight on Thursday, taking at least 50 people hostage. As CNN explains, the hotel was hosting an outdoor late dinner at the time. Guests jumped into a nearby lake in an attempt to escape the attack.
According to Reuters, 12 to 15 civilians were among the dead, along with a policeman and two private security guards for the hotel. NATO, who backed the Afghan police-led siege on the hotel, believe that the Taliban attackers are from the militant Haqqani group, which reportedly still operates from Pakistan.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the hotel allowed alcohol consumption, prostitution, and dancing. Spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid is quoted by the Times as saying, "These acts are illegal and strictly prohibited in Islam." The attack appears to have targeted westerners.