KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Gunmen stormed a guesthouse in the Afghan capital as it hosted a party for foreigners Wednesday night, with an eyewitness saying several dozen people, including Americans, likely were being held captive.
Details about exactly how many people were held at Kabul’s Park Palace Hotel remained unclear into the night, as sporadic gunfire echoed around the guesthouse in a central neighborhood home to United Nations compounds and a foreign-run hospital. One explosion later could be heard and an ambulance and two hearses later arrived to the scene.
Amin Habi, a U.S. citizen from Los Angeles, told The Associated Press that a party was going on at the hotel to honor a Canadian when the gunmen stormed the guesthouse. He said as many as 40 people, including foreigners and U.S. citizens, could still be inside the hotel.
Amar Sinha, India’s ambassador to Afghanistan, said he believed at least six people still held inside were Indian citizens. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Twitter account said he was “concerned about the situation (and) I pray for everyone’s safety.”
Police officers earlier freed some 20 people trapped in the guesthouse, but others remained inside, said Zia Massoud, an Afghan government official. He said at least one of those people was wounded.
The hotel has both guest rooms for visitors and a residential area for those who live full time in Kabul, including foreign aid workers.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, though the Taliban have attacked guesthouses before in Kabul.
Earlier Wednesday, gunmen killed 12 people and wounded 12 in an attack on a government compound in the city of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, authorities said.
Afghan security forces have been struggling to fend off Taliban attacks since U.S. and NATO forces formally concluded their combat mission at the end of last year.