21 Mar 2014

Gunmen attack hotel in Afghan capital

2:42 pm on 21 March 2014

Security forces have restored control at a luxury hotel in the Afghanistan capital Kabul after killing four armed teenagers who attacked it.

An Afghan policeman near the security perimeter of the Serena Hotel.

An Afghan policeman near the security perimeter of the Serena Hotel. Photo: AFP

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Serena Hotel, which is popular with foreigners.

Volleys of gunfire were heard from inside the hotel and one person who was taken to safety along with other guests said that the shooting appeared to begin in the hotel restaurant.

The BBC reports four teenagers with pistols hidden in their socks got through security claiming to be diners at a special buffet put on for Afghan New Year celebrations.

They were shot dead when they emerged to carry out their attack after three hours hiding in a toilet.

An expat New Zealander in Kabul, Tony Cameron, was in contact with a colleague at the hotel when the attack began and the man told him gunfire had broken out.

In an email to Radio New Zealand News Mr Cameron wrote : "Serena is currently under attack by gunman/gunmen. Security returning fire. 10 pm Kabul time."

A short time later he wrote: "International forces have arrived at Serena Hotel and seem to have made contact with one attacker. Firing is continuing. 10.21 pm Kabul time."

Mr Cameron later told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme from Kabul his colleague had said Afghan national police special forces were also at the scene and trying to contain the situation. He said on Friday morning his colleague was uninjured.

The hotel was attacked in 2008 by a suicide bomber and six people were killed, Reuters reports. Since then, it has beefed up its protection and is considered the safest place to stay in Kabul, protected by multiple layers of security including metal detectors and armed guards. It is home to many United Nations staff and foreign delegations.