Afghan Special Forces battle to regain control of Kabul hotel

KABUL - Afghan Special Forces moved through Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel floor by floor on Sunday fighting the surviving gunmen who attacked the hotel a day earlier, seizing hostages and staging an overnight siege.

As day broke on Sunday, thick clouds of black smoke could be seen pouring from the building. Several armored US military vehicles with heavy machine guns could be seen close to the hotel along with Afghan police units.

Television pictures also showed Afghan Special Forces personnel maneuvering on the roof of the hotel.

Officials said two attackers had been killed and one or two others were believed to be still resisting.

Najib Danish, an interior ministry spokesman, said at least five people had been killed and six wounded in the raid, which came days after a U.S. embassy warning of possible attacks on hotels in Kabul.

Danish said 16 foreigners had been rescued but it was not clear what their nationality was.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the latest in a long series of attacks which have underlined the city's precarious situation and the ability of militants to mount high profile operations aimed at undermining confidence in the Western-backed government.

Hotel manager Ahmad Haris Nayab, who escaped unhurt, said the attackers had got into the main part of the hotel through a kitchen before going through the hotel.

According to one witness, who did not want to be named, the attackers took hotel staff and guests hostage.

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