[Updated at 12:36 a.m. ET Wednesday] Seven Taliban attacked Kabul's Hotel Inter-Continental in a brazen, carefully orchestrated operation that began Tuesday night and continued into Wednesday, ending with their deaths and those of 11 other people some six hours after it began, police said.
"We are still searching the hotel; the death number may increase," said Chief of Criminal Investigations Mohammad Zahir on Wednesday morning. Twelve people were wounded or injured, he added.
"The situation is secure," Interior Minister Bismullah Khan said. By then, the top floor of the hotel was ablaze, but within a couple of hours, the flames were gone, though smoke continued to rise from the wreckage.
Two security personnel were killed in the attack, he said.
The Taliban penetrated the hotel's typically heavy security in the attack, and one of them detonated an explosion on the second floor, said Erin Cunningham, a journalist for The Daily in Kabul. A spokesman for the Taliban, Zabiullah Mujahid, said in an e-mail that the suicide attackers entered the hotel after killing the security guards at the entrance.
The Inter-Continental is popular among international guests. A news conference had been scheduled to take place there Wednesday to discuss the planned transition of security from international to Afghan forces that U.S. President Barack Obama announced last week.FULL STORY