Islamic State group claims attack on hotel in Afghan capital



ISLAMABAD — The militant Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for a coordinated attack on a hotel in Afghanistan’s capital that left three assailants dead and at least two of the hotel guests injured as they tried to escape by jumping out from a window.

The attack on the Kabul Longan Hotel on Monday afternoon sent plumes of smoke rising from the 10-story structure building in the heart of Kabul, according to images posted on social media. Residents reported explosions and gunfire.

Taliban forces rushed to the area and blocked all roads leading to the site in the central Shar-e Naw neighborhood. Khalid Zadran, the Taliban-appointed spokesman for the Kabul police chief, said the attack lasted several hours, followed by a clean-up operation.

Hours later, the regional affiliate of the Islamic State group — a key rival of the Taliban since they seized power in Afghanistan over a year ago — claimed responsibility for the attack.

In a statement carried by one of the militant Telegram channels used by IS, the group said two of its members targeted the hotel because it is frequented by diplomats and owned by “communist China.”

The statement further claimed IS attackers detonated two bags with explosives that were left in the hotel earlier, including one in the main hall, and set fire to a part of the hotel. The militant group offered no proof for its claims.

There were conflicting reports as to the casualty numbers.

Taliban officials said three assailants were killed; IS claim said only two of its members took part in the attack, identifying them by name and posting their photographs.

According to Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban government spokesman, two foreign residents were injured when they jumped out of windows to escape the fighting.

But the Emergency Hospital in Kabul said in a tweet it received 21 casualties, including the bodied of three people.

The IS regional affiliate — known as the Islamic State in Khorasan Province — has increased its attacks since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021.

Associated Press writer Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report.

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