Afghan President Hamid Karzai pledged that the highly orchestrated and deadly militant attack on a luxury hotel in his country's capital would not delay the transfer of security control back to local forces.
Militants are "enjoying the killing of innocent people" and "such incidents will not stop us from transitioning security of our country,” Karzai said, the Associated Press reports. Afghan Security Forces responded to the attack on Tuesday night, working their way up to the roof to battle the remaining militants for hours. NATO helicopters then fired rockets at the gunmen on the rooftop at about 3 a.m., killing three fighters.
The sensationalist attack was one of the most complex in Kabul in recent years. Eight heavily armed militants -- some with with machine-guns, anti-aircraft weapons, and rocket-propelled grenades -- broke through several layers of the hotel’s security to kill 11 civilians. All eight were killed by Afghan or coalition forces, or had blown themselves up.
The attack came a week after President Obama announced his plans to withdraw the 33,000 “surge” troops from Afghanistan by the end of next summer. Many of the hotel’s guests were visiting the capital, long considered to be one of the safest areas of Afghanistan, for a conference on the upcoming transfer of security responsibility.
The 11 civilian casualties included a judge, five hotel workers and three Afghan police, the spokseman for the Afghan National Directorate for Security Lotfullah Mashal told the AP. No foreigners were killed, but two were among the 14 wounded in the attack, he said.
Mashal told the New York Times it’s too early to say who was responsible for the attack. The Taliban had quickly claimed responsibility for the nearly six-hour siege, saying their fighters intended to break into each room to target Afghans and foreigners staying there.