A Taliban attack on a luxury hotel in Kabul has killed nine people, including children and foreigners. The attack comes just weeks before Afghanistan's presidential election.
At least nine civilians were killed during an assault by four gunmen on Thursday night at a luxury hotel in Kabul, a spokesman for Afghanistan's interior ministry said on Friday.
The gunmen, believed to have been around 18 years of age, entered Kabul's Serena hotel with pistols hidden in their socks and opened fire in the hotel restaurant. All four men were killed in the ensuing standoff with Afghan security forces.
The hotel is popular with foreign visitors and is heavily fortified.
Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told a news conference in Kabul that four of the victims were foreign nationals; from Canada, New Zealand, India and Pakistan.
The attack, claimed by the Taliban, comes just weeks before Afghanistan's presidential election on April 5, and Sediqqi said the motive was clear.
"We believe that such attacks have a direct link to the upcoming elections, and the enemies try to stage such attacks to frustrate the people of Afghanistan about their future," he said.
Maintaining security is seen as a huge test of Afghan forces abilities as foreign troops wind down their combat mission at the end of this year.
hc,pfd/jr (AFP, AP)