Six foreigners trapped inside besieged Kabul guesthouse

KABUL - Six foreigners including three Americans were trapped inside a Kabul guesthouse on Friday after a group of Taliban gunmen laid siege to the building, police said.
A Reuters witness at the scene saw about 20 people who appeared to be non-Afghans being evacuated from the guesthouse in an upmarket residential area of the capital, many looking frightened and in shock.
A gun battle erupted after a Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up outside the building and insurgents forced their way in, and heavy gunfire resonated in the area for more than an hour after the initial explosion.
Kabul is already on high alert and people are on edge ahead of next week's presidential election which the Taliban have vowed to disrupt.
"A suicide bomber detonated his car loaded with explosives in front of a guesthouse used by foreign and Afghan citizens and now a number of suicide bombers are apparently inside," said Hashmat Stanikzai, a spokesman for Kabul's police chief.
"A gunfight is under way. There are no reports of possible casualties," he said adding that Afghan forces were trying to enter the building to rescue those trapped inside.
Deputy interior minister, General Ayoub Salangi, told Reuters that at least one Australian citizen was among those rescued, but the nationalities of the others were not clear.
Kabul police chief Mohammad Zahir said three US citizens, a Peruvian, a Malaysian and one unidentified African were still inside.
A senior police official said the target appeared to be a USAID-funded Afghan non-governmental organization.
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