The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility on Thursday, May 14, for an attack on a popular guesthouse in Kabul that killed at least 14 people including four Indian nationals, including foreigners attending a dinner and arriving for a concert.
Apart from four Indian nationals, a Briton and one American were confirmed among the dead in a five-hour assault at Park Palace guesthouse in an upscale neighbourhood of central Kabul.
The attack heightened a sense of insecurity in the Afghan capital and throughout the country as the Taliban step up attacks following the withdrawal of most foreign troops.
Kabul’s police chief said 44 people were rescued.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in an emailed statement one of the insurgents’ operatives carried out the attack with the aim of killing foreign citizens in retaliation for the United States and its allies supporting the Kabul government of President Ashraf Ghani.
“The occupying forces should realize that they are not safe from our attacks under any cover or in any location,” Mujahid said.
The death toll rose from five to 14 on Thursday as more bodies were found.
“It was one attacker and we are still investigating how he got in,” police criminal investigation chief Farid Afzali Kabul said.
A Kabul security official put the number of dead at 14, and the number was confirmed by the United Nations Assistance mission in a statement.
The U.S. and Indian embassies confirmed their citizens were among the dead, and an Afghan with British nationality was also killed.
“With regret we can confirm that a British dual national was killed in last night’s attack on a Kabul guesthouse,” a British embassy spokesman said on Thursday.
The shooting started on Wednesday night as some guests gathered for a dinner at the guest house and others were arriving for a concert.
The Taliban’s Mujahid said that the single attacker armed with a pistol, AK-47 and explosive materials was targeting the concert.
“We have pinpointed the location precisely and found out the exact time of the event,” he said in a statement.
A spate of similar attacks in Kabul last year has dampened the city’s once-vibrant social scene.
Late last year, a suicide bomber detonated at a French cultural centre performance, killing one person.
In March 2014, Taliban gunmen killed nine people – including three children – in the upscale Serena Hotel in Kabul.
Two months earlier, attackers stormed into a popular Lebanese restaurant in the capital and gunned down 21 people, including three United Nations staff and a senior IMF official.