A survivor of the incident told TOLOnews that the number of casualties is much higher than revealed by government institutions.
Kabul Hotel Attack Death Toll Could Rise To 43: Source
The death toll from the deadly attack on Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul climbed to 18 by late Sunday but one source said the number of dead could be as high as 43.
The attack ended after 17 hours.
Meanwhile, the Afghan security institutions have said that at least 29 people were killed in the attack from which 14 of them are foreigners.
At least six people were wounded in the attack, sources said.
A survivor also said the death toll is much higher than what government has said.
Another credible source said there had been an engagement party at the hotel when the attack happened. The source said the attackers had opened fire on guests who were attending the engagement party.
The Ministry of Interior says six attackers were involved in the attack.
Earlier in the day, the Ministry of Interior confirmed that at least five people, including the head of Farah’s telecommunication department, Jamaluddin Padshahkhil, and one foreigner, were killed and six wounded in the siege.
President Ashraf Ghani in a statement condemned the attack and called for regional and international consensus against states which sponsor and harbor terrorists.
The president assigned a team to investigate the incident.
Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah also condemned the attack and commended security forces for saving civilians trapped inside the hotel following the incident.
"I commend the Afghan Forces for their bravery & professional action of rescuing over 100 civilians and killing all terrorists in the insane attack on Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. I condemn the attack & condole with the victim families" Abdullah tweeted.
The US Ambassador in Kabul meanwhile condemned the attack and praised the Afghan forces’ response to the attackers.
“I condemn in the strongest terms last night’s heinous attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. Such violence has no place here or anywhere in the world, the ambassador said in a statement released on Sunday afternoon.
“I extend my heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims. I also commend the bravery and quick response of the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. The US Embassy is in close contact with Afghan authorities, who are continuing to investigate the incident,” he said.
“Afghanistan deserves peace and security – not deliberate and murderous attacks on innocent civilians. My government and the people of the United States stand with the Afghan government and people in fighting terrorism and working to bring peace and security to Afghanistan,” the US envoy said.
Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. The group claimed that five attackers were involved in the siege.
Throughout the night staff and guests managed to escape bit by bit but security forces rescued a total of 126 people by 9.30am on Sunday. Of the people rescued, 41 were foreign nationals.
Dozens of people who had friends and family trapped inside the hotel gathered through the night in below freezing temperatures waiting for news of their loved ones.
Many said they had made contact up to a point but that phones eventually weren’t being answered or were switched off. Desperate for news these families waited for hours.
Throughout the night, except for a two-hour lull between 2am and 4am, heavy gunfights and explosions prevailed.
Shortly after 4am additional special forces were sent in. They ramped up the operation and heavy shooting resumed.
This carried on for another few hours and at 7am another batch of special forces and foreign troops moved in.
By 8am five of the six stories of the hotel had been cleared.
By 10am, special forces could be seen sweeping the roof of the hotel while firefighters tried to extinguish the blaze which has caused serious damage to the building.
Saturday night’s siege was not the first for this hotel. In June 2011, nine insurgents carried out a similar attack that lasted for five hours and resulted in the death of 12 people.