KABUL, Jan. 21 - At least six Ukrainians
among 14 foreigners and four Afghans were killed were killed after gunmen stormed the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul on Saturday, a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry said.
The attack set off a 13-hour gun battle with security forces in an overnight siege, as frantic guests tried to escape from fourth and fifth-floor windows.
Interior Ministry spokesman Najib Danish said that 11 of the 14 foreigners killed were employees of KamAir, a private Afghan airline.
“We are working with the Afghan authorities to establish circumstances of this terrorist attack,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin tweeted on Sunday.
Another ministry spokesman, Nasrat Rahimi, said that nine of the dead were Ukrainian, one was Greek, two were South African and another was from Kazakistan.
The nationality of one of the victims wasn’t yet known, Rahimi said.
Ten other people, including six security forces and four civilians, were wounded, he added. While more than 150 people, including 41 foreigners, were rescued from the hotel.
A State Department official said it was working with local authorities to determine if any victims are American.
Danish said the siege ended on Sunday when the last gunman was shot dead. The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and said their targets were foreign forces including U.S. troops.
Capt. Tom Gresback, spokesman for NATO-led forces, said in a statement that according to initial reports, no foreign troops were hurt in the attack.
As guests fled the hotel, some could be seen shimmying down tied-together sheets from upper-floor windows in order to escape.
One man told NBC News that his friend's life was spared because he told the attackers they were local.
"They entered our room and that of our friend's and asked them where are you from?" Mumtaz Ahmad told NBC News. "Our friend answered from Jalal-Abad so the attackers replied you are okay no problem."
The attackers seemed to be targeting people working with the government or with foreigners, he added. (ap/ez)