One policeman killed in Kabul hotel attack

One policeman killed in Kabul hotel attack

KABUL – The Associated Press
One policeman killed in Kabul hotel attack

Afghan security guards look on as they stand near the damage wall of compound at the scene of a powerful truck bomb blast that targeted a hotel used by foreign contractors, on the outskirts of Kabul on August 1, 2016. AFP photo

A group of militants, including a suicide truck bomber, targeted a Kabul guesthouse for foreign contractors early on Aug. 1, killing one policeman and wounding four, Afghan authorities said. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Interior Ministry said “terrorists” used a truck full of explosives to breach the perimeter wall of the Northgate Hotel around 1:30 a.m. local time. Three gunmen then entered the premises and started shooting.

The ministry’s deputy spokesman Najib Danish said the truck driver was killed when he detonated the explosives. The blast in the eastern part of the Afghan capital shook the city and was followed by widespread power outages. A Taliban statement said they had sent heavily armed operatives as part of the attack.

Abdul Rahman Rahimi, the Kabul chief of police, said all the attackers who were on foot had been killed and that none of the hotel’s residents were harmed. A man identifying himself as Steve Jones answered the phone at the hotel and said all the guests were safe. “We have 100 percent accountability,” he said.

However, as daylight broke and Afghan policemen deployed at the site kept the roads leading to the hotel sealed off, questions remained as to how the insurgents were able to bring a truck loaded with explosives into the Afghan capital.

Foreign guesthouses have long been a Taliban target. The Northgate Hotel was attacked in July, 2013, in a similar manner, with a truck bomb breaching the gate and gunmen storming the compound. Reports at the time said that four security guards were killed before the attackers were shot dead.

The Northgate, which is east of Kabul’s international airport and near the Bagram Air Base, is typical of many pre-fabricated compounds that offer secure accommodation to foreigners working in the Afghan capital.

According to its website, it offers much the same services as any hotel, along with high security, sniffer dogs, airport transfers and “background checks, if necessary.”

The ministry’s statement on the hotel attack said that police commandos arrived and surrounded the facility, but had to be careful because fuel tankers were stored in the area. They waited until dawn before trying to find the gunmen. “The operation finished at 7:30 a.m. when the terrorists were killed,” the statement said.