Taliban gunmen stormed a lakeside hotel building near Kabul on Friday. The attack has ended after a 12-hour operation by elite Afghan police and NATO forces. Twenty people are feared dead in the brutal attack by the Taliban.
The Taliban attacked the hotel with rocket-propelled grenades, machine guns and suicide vests. The hotel security, which was taken by surprise, tried to curtail the attack, but the highly equipped and planned assault made them call the elite police force and NATO troops.
The blunt attack from the Taliban is raising questions regarding the preparedness of NATO-trained Afghan forces. Analysts say that the attack shows how potent the Islamist insurgency remains after a decade of war in Afghanistan.
The head of NATO forces in Afghanistan expressed that the attack bore the signature of the Taliban-linked Haqqani group that he said continued to operate from Pakistan, an allegation that may further escalate tensions with Islamabad.
"Afghan National Security Forces and coalition military sources acknowledge that this attack bears the signature of the Haqqani network, which continues to target and kill innocent Afghans and blatantly violate Afghan sovereignty from the safety of Pakistan," General Allen said in a statement.
U.S. Defense Secretaryhad already said that Washington was at the limits of its patience with Pakistan over the existence of militant networks including the Haqqanis. Any connection of this attack with Pakistan will further strain the already crisis-hit relations between Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States.
The hostages recovered alive were shaken by the brazen attack. One witness named Sharifullah, 30, told AFP, "I saw three armed men entering the area where people, families, had gathered. Moments later the shooting broke out, people panicked and started screaming."
"I threw myself in a ditch but saw bullets hitting a father, his son and wife who were sitting around a table near me. I am not sure if they survived," he added.