Taliban militants attacked a lakeside hotel near Kabul overnight, seizing dozens of hostages including women and children and killing as many as 17 people.
Several guests of the exclusive Spozhmai hotel on Qargha Lake reportedly swam for their lives during the siege, which began around midnight local time on Thursday with militants bursting into a private party — held by wealthy Afghans, one Reuters reporter tweeted — and shooting dead hotel workers.
The siege lasted several hours, with around 50 people being held hostage, before Afghan security forces backed by NATO helicopters reportedly moved in for a predawn raid.
Norwegian special forces troops — who operate a quick-reaction force for incidents in Kabul — were also on scene, according to the Washington Post.
Kabul police chief Ayoub Salangi said in a statement, cited by CNN, that all five militants were killed in the raid, but not before at least three security guards, a police officer and four civilians were killed in the standoff.
The Associated Press, meantime, cited the Afghan National Army commander for Kabul as saying the total death toll was 17 — 12 Afghan civilians, four security guards and an Afghan police officer — although the Post put the toll at 15.
Qargha Lake, 10 miles from the Afghan capital, is used as a summer getaway surrounded by mountains, where visitors can take to the water on paddle boats and dine in lakeside restaurants, the Post wrote.
The Taliban took responsibility for the attack, saying they targeted the hotel because foreigners came there for drinking and prostitution.
Guests at the hotel told the Post that they hadn’t noticed any foreigners there.
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