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Taliban claim attack on Kabul's Park Palace hotel

Extremists of the Taliban have claimed responsibility for an attack on Kabul's Park Palace hotel. Several people were killed and many wounded in a siege that lasted around seven hours.

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More than 50 people were rescued from the hotel siege

The Taliban on Thursday claimed responsibility for

striking the Park Palace hotel in Afghanistan's capital Kabul.

"The attack was planned carefully to target the party in which important people and Americans were attending," the militants' spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement. Only one attacker, armed with a Kalashnikov, a suicide vest and a pistol carried out the attack, he said. The

the seven-hour siege

came to an end on Thursday morning.

"Unfortunately 11 people, including foreigners, were killed in the attack. It was one attacker and we are still investigating how he got in," police criminal investigation chief Farid Afzali Kabul told journalists. A senior Afghan official put the death toll at 14, but the number could not be confirmed.

At least one American died in the siege, the US embassy in Kabul confirmed. "Our thoughts are with the families of the victims at this time. Out of respect for the families of those killed, we have no further information at this time," news agency AFP quoted US embassy spokeswoman Monica Cummings as saying.

The Indian media reported four Indians being killed, although officials in Kabul confirmed only two victims.

The victims were attending a concert in the guesthouse, which is popular among international aid agency workers.

The Taliban have stepped up their offensive against the government

since NATO formally ended its combat mission in Afghanistan

last December. Since then, the militants have staged attacks on compounds, restaurants and guesthouses popular with foreign tourists. Last November the militants struck Kabul's most prestigious hotel, the Serena, killing nine.

mg/msh (AP, AFP, dpa)

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