Taliban deemed 'enemy of humanity' following Kabul hotel rampage

Salaam Times

Gunmen stormed a luxury hotel in Kabul and killed at least 18 people, most of them foreigners. The massacre sparked a 12-hour battle with Afghan forces backed by Norwegian troops that left terrified guests scrambling to escape. [Rateb Noori/AFPTV/AFP]

KABUL -- Condemnation is pouring in on the Taliban after six of its members went on a 12-hour murder spree at Kabul's International Hotel starting Saturday night, killing at least 19 people and setting fire to parts of the six-story building.

The attack ended Sunday (January 21) with all six attackers killed by Afghan forces, aided by Norwegian troops, said officials.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault via email.

Terrified hotel guests climbed down bedsheets tied to balconies to escape the gunmen rampaging through the hilltop hotel overlooking Kabul, and television footage showed black smoke and flames billowing from the hotel.

An Afghan soldier stands guard during a shoot-out at the Kabul Intercontinental Hotel January 21. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

An Afghan soldier stands guard during a shoot-out at the Kabul Intercontinental Hotel January 21. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

Hasibullah, 20, a wounded employee of the Intercontinental Hotel, gets an X-ray scan in Kabul January 22, after a Taliban attack on the hotel. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

Hasibullah, 20, a wounded employee of the Intercontinental Hotel, gets an X-ray scan in Kabul January 22, after a Taliban attack on the hotel. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

Afghan troops take positions on the roof of the Kabul Intercontinental Hotel during a battle with gunmen January 21. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

Afghan troops take positions on the roof of the Kabul Intercontinental Hotel during a battle with gunmen January 21. [Wakil Kohsar/AFP]

Special forces were lowered by helicopters during the night onto the roof of the landmark 1960s building.

Interior Ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi said an investigation was ongoing into the attack. Speculation is surrounding how militants breached security, which a private company began providing three weeks ago.

Counting the dead, wounded

At least 14 foreigners and five Afghan citizens were among the dead, with more than 160 people rescued, Najib Danish, another Interior Ministry spokesman, told Salaam Times Monday.

The Taliban-linked Haqqani Network was behind the attack, insisted Danish.

Twenty-two bodies were taken to Kabul hospitals, Health Ministry spokesman Waheed Majroh said Monday. "Some of the bodies [are] burned badly and need DNA tests," he said.

Some reports suggested more than 40 lives were lost.

Eleven workers from Afghan airline Kam Air, including 7 Ukrainians, were among the dead, according to Danish. The company's CEO, Capt. Samad Usman Samadi, earlier said 42 of its personnel had been at the hotel during the attack.

Senior Afghan diplomat Abdullah Poyan was killed, a Foreign Ministry official told AFP.

Mufti Ahmad Farzan, a member of Afghanistan's High Peace Council who was responsible for reconciliation efforts with militants, was also killed, said Danish.

'Kill the foreigners'

The attackers burst into the hotel Saturday night, opening fire and taking dozens of hostages, said officials.

Afghan Telecom regional director Aziz Tayeb, who was one of dozens of hotel guests attending an IT conference, said he saw the attackers enter.

"Everything became chaotic in a moment," he told AFP. "I hid behind a pillar, and I saw people who were enjoying themselves a second ago screaming and fleeing like crazy, and some of them falling down, hit by bullets."

A hotel employee said he saw two "fashionably dressed" gunmen in the hotel restaurant before the assault began.

"It was around 8.30pm... They were sitting in the corner of the hotel, and they immediately started spraying bullets," the 20-year-old employee, who gave his name as Hasibullah, told AFP from his hospital bed.

He ran to a fifth floor room and locked himself inside, though not before seeing "many" bodies on the ground.

The gunmen went from door to door opening them "with daggers and shooting everyone". They were searching for foreigners, according to Hasibullah, though Afghans were not spared. "They were saying 'kill the foreigners'," he said.

He leapt from a window. "I fell on people lying in blood... it was horrific."

Knocked unconscious, he awoke in a hospital with a broken leg and other wounds.

'Enemy of humanity'

The Taliban attack has been widely condemned by both Afghans and the international community.

President Ashraf Ghani condemned it and praised the Afghan National Defence and Security Forces (ANDSF) -- in particular a special police unit -- for preventing many casualties, said a Sunday statement from his office.

"Attacking public spaces and murdering innocents are not allowed in any religion. Whoever carries out such attacks is seriously violating Islamic orders and is considered an enemy of humanity," Mohammad Salem Hasani, a Kabul-based Afghan religious scholar, told Salaam Times.

"We fiercely condemn this attack on the Intercontinental Hotel that killed and wounded a number of civilians. We call on militants not to target civilians or public institutions and areas. They shouldn't commit more crimes and violate human rights," Bilal Sediqi, spokesperson for the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), told Salaam Times.

Pakistan's Foreign Ministry also issued a statement Sunday expressing "deep grief and sorrow at the loss of precious human lives and the injuring of many others in this terrorist act".

"We reiterate our strong condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations," the ministry said.

The United States remains "firmly committed to supporting Afghan efforts to achieve peace, security, and prosperity for their country. Violence like what we witnessed yesterday has no place in Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the world," said US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a statement Saturday.

"We have seen the Taliban's claim of responsibility and condemn terrorist groups for their violent campaign against Afghan and foreign personnel working to improve Afghanistan," he said.

Taliban assaults intensify

The attack followed security warnings in recent days to avoid hotels and other locations frequented by foreigners in Kabul.

The attack on the Intercontinental was just one of several bloody assaults Sunday carried out by the Taliban, which is receiving support from Iran and Russia.

In a village in Balkh Province, Taliban militants went from house to house in the middle of the night, pulling police from their homes and shooting them dead.

At least 18 officers were killed, deputy police chief Abdul Raziq Qaderi told AFP.

In Herat Province, at least eight civilians were killed when a car hit a Taliban-planted roadside mine, officials there said.

[Sulaiman from Kabul contributed to this report.]

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The people of Afghanistan will continue to become victims for as long as the fifth column from within the government is not identified and executed. With regards to the attack on Hotel Continental, there is no way for Taliban members, Pakistanis, or even ordinary people to be able to enter this hotel. There are, however, those whose vehicles enter the hotel without undergoing any inspection. Those are the ones who should be identified. Who are they? We should not be looking for an answer in Pakistan, or Taliban, or the vehicle of Tunisian...


I think if we respect all as per islamic teachings these type of acts will not happen


First of all, your report was excellent. I thank you! Secondly, in our country we just hear the phrase "strongly condemning" from officials, as well as media. It is not enough, however, to merely condemn strongly or to call Taliban and other terrorists as criminals. People are all aware of the fact that whoever commits crime is an enemy of the humanity. What must be done with these enemies of humanity? This is a question which must be answered by the world's humanitarian organizations, as well as the Afghan government.


The problem is that this game will continue as long as the safe haven for terrorists are not destroyed in Quetta, Peshawar, Rawalpindi and in Waziristan. Afghans and their foreign guests, women and children will be killed in this game. I appreciate President Trump's strategy in response to Pakistan's hypocritical policies on a condition that he fulfill his oath, because Pakistanis and especially Pakistani army and its intelligence agencies have deceived all previous American officials with their so-called smile and mild behavior. Americans should not consider yesterday's killing of Afghans and their foreign guests as a shame only for Afghan government, but it is also a shame for Americans who have presence in Afghanistan, while Pakistani intelligence [agencies] play game in Afghanistan, which is completely under the control of Americans. I remember very well when the Soviet Union was disinterested and Pakistan's then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto went to Saudi Arabia and said there, 'we (Pakistan) crushed the Soviet Union'. Americans! I swear to God that this shameless nation will make similar stories on you too. So, whatever weapons you have; If it is mother of bombs or father of bombs, bring all of them and place it in Jalalabad, Kandahar and Khost, and whenever the Pakistani intelligence do such a work again, say Ya Allah [attack]. If you do not want to do it, give it to Afghans to take revenge on them. Curse on Pakistan and curse on Pakistan's intelligence agency wh