Late yesterday, a Taliban suicide assault team attacked the Serena Hotel, a posh and secure hotel in Kabul which has been targeted by the group several times in the past. From Pajhwok Afghan News:
Four teenage suicide attackers were also killed after a two-hour clash with security personnel inside the Serena Hotel, frequented by high-ranking Afghan and foreign officials. Deputy Minister Gen. Ayub Salangi said the dead included two women and children. Both women were foreigners, according to Salangi, who did not give their nationalities.
One of the victims was a former Paraguayan diplomat, who had come to Afghanistan as an election observer. Paraguay’s Foreign Minister Eladio Loizaga identified the election observer as Luis Maria Duarte.
Interior Ministry spokesman Siddique Siddiqui wrote on his Twitter page: “Eight civilian including, three women, three men and two children were killed during the terrorist attack on Serena Hotel last night.”
The two children were shot in the head. The foreigners were from Canada, New Zealand, India and Pakistan. A child, a hotel guard, two Afghan soldiers and a parliamentarian were among the injured.
The Taliban claimed the attack on their official website, Voice of Jihad, and named the four fighters. Below is the full Taliban statement:
Four martyr attackers Siddiqullah Ma’az, Zahurullah, Hafiz Agha and Mohammad Haydari, equipped with automatic weapons, grenades and powerful sticky explosives entered the Serena Hotel frequented by the foreigners last night about 9:00 p.m. local time launching a three-hour long operation.
The martyr attackers as per previously planned tactics and accurate intelligence on the presence key foreign invaders along with the top-level local officials and lawyers in the hotel viewed it as the best opportunity to strike.
The brave attackers divided into two teams and began targeting the enemy from both directions. The Mujahideen fighters started searching each rooms of the hotel thoroughly to discover the identities of the guests and selectively took down their targets.
Meantime, the martyr Mujahideen, too, had a lethal fight with the enemy security.
At about 12:00 a.m., all four martyrdom-seeking Mujahideen with indomitable courage and spirit of sacrifice, embraced martyrdom after having killed at least 22 foreign invaders and puppets including high-ranking officials, lawyers and security gunmen and wounded 13 others.
Last night’s suicide assault on the Serena was the second such attack that day. Earlier, seven Taliban fighters launched a suicide assault on a police headquarters in Jalalabad in Nangarhar province, and killed a district police chief, nine policemen, and a civilian during a clash that lasted for six hours.
The Taliban have prioritized attacks against hotels in Kabul. In June 2011, a suicide assault team hit the Intercontinental Hotel, killing 13 people. In February 2011, a suicide bomber detonated at the Safi Landmark. And in January 2008, a suicide assault team carried out an attack similar to today’s at the Serena Hotel. Foreigners were the targets of all of those strikes.