1. Headline
  1. Headline

Photos: Kabul hotel attack

loading photos...
  1. A NATO helicopter hovers over the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul on June 29 after the building was attacked by armed Taliban rebels. Eight civilians and 2 police officers were reported killed after suicide bombers and heavily armed insurgents attacked the hotel frequented by Westerners in the Afghan capital late on Tuesday, Afghan officials said. Helicopters from the NATO-led force killed the last three insurgents in a final rooftop battle, a coalition spokesman said. (S. Sabawoon / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Curtains and sheets reportedly used by people to escape the fire are left hanging on the facade of the Kabul Inter-Continental hotel after it was attacked by armed Taliban rebels on June 29. (S. Sabawoon / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Smoke billows from the Inter-Continental hotel during a battle between Afghan security forces and suicide bombers and Taliban insurgents in Kabul on June 29. (Ahmad Masood / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Coalition soldiers leave after taking part in a military operation against the insurgents in Kabul on June 29. (AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Afghan soldiers walk towards the Inter-Continental hotel at the end of a military operation against Taliban militants that stormed the hotel in Kabul on June 29. (Pedro Ugarte / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. An Afghan soldier aims his gun as he guards the area surrounding the Inter-Continental hotel on June 29. (Pedro Ugarte / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Smoke and flames light up the night from a blaze at the Inter-Continental hotel after an attack on the hotel by Taliban fighters and a response by Afghan security forces backed by NATO helicopters in Kabul on June 29. (Massoud Hossaini / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. A NATO helicopter fires a missile towards the roof of the Inter-Continental hotel in Kabul on June 29. (Omar Sobhani / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Police help a man who was injured during the attack on the Inter-Continental hotel, early June 29. (S. Sabawoon / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Afghan Police take positions at a road leading to the Inter-Continental hotel after armed Taliban militants stormed it early on June 29. (S. Sabawoon / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Afghan security officials gather near the Inter-Continental hotel after armed Taliban militants stormed the hotel in Kabul early on June 29. (S. Sabawoon / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Pakistani national, Ishtiaq Mohammed, a guest at the Inter-Continental hotel, leaves the building on June 29. (Gemunu Amarasinghe / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  1. Image: Taliban militants attack on Kabul hotel
    S. Sabawoon / EPA
    Above: Slideshow (12) Kabul hotel attack
    Massoud Hossaini / AFP - Getty Images
    Slideshow (80) Afghanistan: Nation at a crossroads - 2013
    Noorullah Shirzada / AFP - Getty Images
    Slideshow (139) Afghanistan: Nation at a crossroads - 2012
  4. Image:
    Rahmat Gul / AP
    Slideshow (234) Afghanistan: Nation at a crossroads - 2011
  5. Image:
    Altaf Qadri / AP
    Slideshow (158) Afghanistan: Nation at a crossroads - 2010
  6. Image: U.S. army soldiers from Task Force Denali 1-40 Cav reposition a 105mm Howitzer during snowfall at FOB Wilderness in Paktya province
    Zohra Bensemra / Reuters
    Slideshow (88) Afghanistan: Nation at a crossroads - 2009: Troops
  1. Image: Afghan protesters shout slogans during a protest in Kabul
    Ahmad Masood / Reuters
    Slideshow (31) Afghanistan: Nation at a crossroads - 2009: Civilians
msnbc.com news services
updated 6/29/2011 4:40:33 AM ET 2011-06-29T08:40:33

Police scoured one of Kabul's landmark hotels room-by-room on Wednesday after an overnight assault by suicide bombers killed at least 10 people.

  1. Stories from
    1. WATCH: Odell Beckham Jr.'s Absurd One-Handed Catch Everyone's Talking About
    2. All About Bill Cosby's Accusers - and the Fall of a TV Icon
    3. Gavin Rossdale: My Older Sons 'Just Love' Baby Apollo
    4. Sting to Take Over Starring Role in His Broadway Show
    5. Mark Salling: Cory Monteith's Death Leaves a 'Big Hole' in Glee's Final Season

Armed with rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons, the eight attackers stormed the heavily guarded Inter-Continental hotel, frequented by Westerners and VIPs.

Afghan security forces entered the building and engaged the attackers, some of whom blew themselves up. A NATO helicopter then killed the remaining insurgents in a final rooftop battle that ended a five-hour standoff.

After several explosions, attackers entered the hotel late on Tuesday and made their way to the ballroom, a hotel receptionist said.


Some carried tape recorders playing Taliban war songs and shot at anyone they saw. Guests jumped from second and third floors to escape, the receptionist told Reuters, asking not to be identified.

A lone suicide bomber, who had been injured in the attack, later blew himself up in one of the rooms, officials said.

"The police are still searching room-by-room to see if there are any casualties or any threats," Kabul police chief Ayoub Salangi told reporters.

Some foreign hotel guests were driven away in diplomatic vehicles while others waited on a street outside the hotel as the sun rose over the Afghan capital early Wednesday.

Story: A decade on, no clear answers in Afghanistan

The attack on a five-story hotel raised doubt about the ability of Afghan security forces to take charge of securing the nation from foreign combat forces.

Salangi said the attackers, who were able to penetrate the hotel's tight security, attacked at around 10 p.m. local time (1:30 p.m. ET) Tuesday on the eve of a conference about transferring responsibility for security across the nation from foreign combat troops to Afghan security forces by the end of 2014.

Salangi said most of the 10 victims were workers and cooks employed at the hotel. He provided no further details, but said none of the conference attendees staying at the hotel were harmed.

"There were no casualties among the guests — either foreign or Afghan," he said. "No high-ranking government officials were killed."

Nazar Ali Wahedi, chief of intelligence for Helmand province in the south, called the assailants "the enemy of stability and peace" in Afghanistan.

"Our room was hit by several bullets," said Wahedi, who is attending the conference elsewhere in the capital. "We spent the whole night in our room."

Interactive: Timeline: The war in Afghanistan (on this page)

At around 3 a.m. local time (6:30 p.m. ET), two NATO helicopters opened fire on the roof of the hotel where militants had taken up positions.

U.S. Army Maj. Jason Waggoner, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition fighting in Afghanistan, said the helicopters killed three gunmen and Afghan security forces clearing the hotel worked their way up to the roof and engaged the remaining insurgents.

As the helicopters attacked and Afghan security forces moved in, there were four massive explosions. Officials at the scene said the blasts occurred when security forces either fired on suicide bombers or they blew themselves up.

After the gunmen were killed, the hotel lights that had been blacked out during the attack came back on.

Afghan security vehicles and ambulances were removing the dead and wounded from the area. Hours later, however, the last of the suicide bombers, who had been holed up in a room, blew himself up, the finale of the deadly night of violence.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the rare nighttime attack in the capital — an apparent attempt to show that they remain potent despite heavy pressure from coalition and Afghan security forces.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid later issued a statement claiming that Taliban attackers killed guards at a gate and entered the hotel.

"One of our fighters called on a mobile phone and said: 'We have gotten onto all the hotel floors and the attack is going according to the plan. We have killed and wounded 50 foreign and local enemies. We are in the corridors of the hotel now taking guests out of their rooms — mostly foreigners. We broke down the doors and took them out one by one," he said.

Anti-aircraft weapons
The Taliban often exaggerate casualties from their attacks.

The attackers were heavily armed with machine guns, anti-aircraft weapons, hand grenades and grenade launchers, the Afghan officials said. Afghan police rushed to the scene and firefights broke out.

"We were locked in a room. Everybody was shooting and firing," said Abdul Zahir Faizada, head of the local council in Herat province in western Afghanistan, who was in town to attend the conference. "I heard a lot of shooting."

Interactive: The cost of war (on this page)

A few hours into the clashes, an Afghan National Army commando unit arrived at the hotel, situated on a hill overlooking the capital.

Guests inside the hotel said they heard gunfire echoing throughout the heavily guarded building.

Jawid, a guest at the hotel, said he jumped out a one-story window to flee the shooting.

"I was running with my family," he said. "There was shooting. The restaurant was full with guests."

The attack occurred nearly a week after President Barack Obama announced he was withdrawing 33,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan and would end the American combat role by the end of 2014.

'Discussing reconciliation'
Before the attack began on Tuesday, officials from the U.S., Pakistan and Afghanistan met in the capital to discuss prospects for making peace with Taliban insurgents to end the nearly decade-long war.

"The fact that we are discussing reconciliation in great detail is success and progress, but challenges remain and we are reminded of that on an almost daily basis by violence," Jawed Ludin, Afghanistan's deputy foreign minister, said at a news conference. "The important thing is that we act and that we act urgently and try to do what we can to put an end to violence."

The Inter-Continental — known widely as the "Inter-Con" — opened in the late 1960s, and was the nation's first international luxury hotel. It has at least 200 rooms and was once part of an international chain. But when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, the hotel was left to fend for itself.

Slideshow: Afghanistan: Nation at a crossroads (on this page)

It was used by Western journalists during the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

On Nov. 23, 2003, a rocket exploded nearby, shattering windows but causing no casualties.

Twenty-two rockets hit the Inter-Con between 1992 and 1996, when factional fighting convulsed Kabul under the government of Burhanuddin Rabbani. All the windows were broken, water mains were damaged and the outside structure pockmarked. Some, but not all, of the damage was repaired during Taliban rule.

Attacks in the Afghan capital have been relatively rare, although violence has increased since the May 2 killing of Osama bin Laden in a U.S. raid in Pakistan and the start of the Taliban's annual spring offensive.

On June 18, insurgents wearing Afghan army uniforms stormed a police station near the presidential palace and opened fire on officers, killing nine.

Late last month, a suicide bomber wearing an Afghan police uniform infiltrated the main Afghan military hospital, killing six medical students. A month before that, a suicide attacker in an army uniform sneaked past security at the Afghan Defense Ministry, killing three people.

Other hotels in the capital have also been targeted.

In January 2008, militants stormed Kabul's most popular luxury hotel, the Serena, hunting down Westerners who cowered in a gym during a coordinated assault that killed eight people. An American, a Norwegian journalist and a Philippine woman were among the dead.

A suicide car bomber in December 2009, struck near the home of a former Afghan vice president and a hotel frequented by Westerners, killing eight people and wounding nearly 40 in a neighborhood considered one of Kabul's safest.

And in February 2010, insurgents struck two residential hotels in the heart of Kabul, killing 20 people including seven Indians, a French filmmaker and an Italian diplomat.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Video: NATO helicopters fire on and kill 3 attackers on Kabul hotel rooftop

Data: Timeline: The war in Afghanistan

A look at key events in the U.S.-led conflict in the south-central Asian nation.

  1. US Marine Sergent John Cox of 1st Combat
    Manpreet Romana / AFP/Getty Images
    Above: Data Timeline: The war in Afghanistan
  2. Interactive The cost of war


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. Who made Consumers Reports 2014 'Naughty & Nice' List?

    Some companies take good care of their customers; others fall way short of expectations. Consumer Reports’ fifth annual Naughty & Nice List is designed to give a shout out to those that merit cheers and point out those that deserve jeers.

    11/24/2014 1:00:24 PM +00:00 2014-11-24T13:00:24
  1. Kevin Winter / Getty Images

    Swift went crazy and Selena cried: The 6 best moments of the AMAs

    11/24/2014 1:16:09 PM +00:00 2014-11-24T13:16:09
  1. TODAY

    video Oops! Watch Tamron tumble out of Macy’s parade balloon

    11/24/2014 1:31:03 PM +00:00 2014-11-24T13:31:03
  1. Getty Images file

    Katy Perry to star in Super Bowl XLIX halftime show: Here's what to expect

    11/24/2014 12:06:51 PM +00:00 2014-11-24T12:06:51
  1. Saudi national detained at Fort Sam Houston

    video On Sunday an unidentified manran a gate at the U.S. Army post in San Antonio, Texas, and was stopped by security. Explosive materials were reportedly found in his car. NBC Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski reports.

    11/24/2014 12:19:58 PM +00:00 2014-11-24T12:19:58