A group of hostages taken by Taliban militants in an attack on a hotel near Kabul have been freed after a five-hour gun battle. Several of the attackers have been killed.
Afghan security forces freed several civilians on Friday morning after a battle with Taliban attackers who overran a lakeside hotel near the capital.
"Two terrorists have been killed and we have cleared the second floor of the hotel. We are now clearing the area of the remaining insurgents," Kabul Police Chief Ayoub Salangi
It remained unclear if Taliban fighters remained in and around the hotel at Qargha Lake.
"Our officers have not gone yet to the lake side (of the hotel) and we don't know if there are more terrorists," Salengi said.
The full number of casualties on both sides was unclear. Kabul police said the attack triggered a five-hour gun battle, and that Taliban gunmen had been holding several hostages, thought to include women and children.
The insurgents had been armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.
"Three Taliban militants entered Spozmai Hotel in Qargah at midnight. Police did not react immediately for fear of the safety of the civilians," General Ayoub Salangi, the head of Kabul police, told dpa.
The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility, saying wealthy Afghans and foreigners used the hotel, to have wild parties in the lead-up to the Friday religious day holiday.
The attack came just hours after President Hamid Karzai told parliament that attacks on security forces had increased in recent months, claiming that 20 to 25 Afghan soldiers were being killed each day.
rc/av (AP, AFP, Reuters)