The Intercontinental Hotel in Afghanistan’s capital, Kabul is under attack.
Terrorists have taken several hostages in the hotel, according to local police sources.
The gunmen entered through the hotel kitchen, before moving to rooms 104 and 105, according to local journalist Bilal Sarwary, who cited an Afghan special forces commander.
Security services are responding to the crisis.
An official at the Afghan spy agency said that the gunmen were “shooting at guests”. The terrorists appeared to include at least one suicide bomber.
The attack began at about 21:00 local time. There were no immediate details of casualties.
An eyewitness, who managed to flee Intercontinental Hotel, said at least 15 people are either killed or wounded in the first and second floors of the hotel.
The kitchen and 4th floor are on fire.
A person trapped in the hotel said “I’m going to die. The terrorists are going from room to room to kill people.”
The hotel was attacked by the Taliban in 2011. 21 people were murdered, including 9 Muslim terrorists.
It is one of Kabul’s two main luxury hotels and had been due to host an information technology conference on Sunday.
More than 100 IT managers and engineers were on site when the terror attack occurred, Ahmad Waheed, an official at the telecommunications ministry, said.
A guest hiding in his room told AFP he “heard gunfire from somewhere near the first floor.” “We are hiding in our rooms. I beg the security forces to rescue us as soon as possible before they reach and kill us,” the trapped guest added.
During the siege, the fourth floor of the hotel caught fire, according to an official from the National Directorate of Security who spoke to AFP.
A local news reporter for an Afghan television network reported hearing an explosion from outside the burning building. While a resident living close to the hotel spoke about hearing “another two explosions,” according to TOLO news.
On Thursday, the U.S. embassy in Kabul issued a warning to U.S. citizens, saying “We are aware of reports that extremist groups may be planning an attack against hotels in Kabul”.
Some escapees were seen using tied-together bedsheets to climb down from the hotel’s upper floors, while others were brought to safety by Afghan Special Forces personnel.
UPDATE: At least five civilians have been killed and six other people have been wounded. Five Muslim terrorists dressed in army uniforms have been eliminated by Afghan Special Forces.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the terror attack.
Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said at least five people had been killed and six wounded, a lower casualty total than earlier feared, while 153 people, including 41 foreigners had been evacuated.
As day broke on Sunday, thick clouds of black smoke could be seen pouring from the building. Several armored U.S. military vehicles with heavy machine guns could be seen close to the hotel along with Afghan police units.