(UPDATED) 16 killed in Taliban attack on hotel near Kabul

Agence France-Presse
Taliban insurgents launch a suicide attack on a wedding party in Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan – (UPDATED) Taliban insurgents have launched a suicide attack on a wedding party at a hotel in a popular Kabul beauty spot, NATO and police said Friday, June 22, killing 16 people, including women.

Those killed in the 12-hour attack on the Spozhmai hotel on Qargha lake, a beauty spot popular with picnickers, included 12 civilians, three hotel guards and a police officer, Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said.

A number of hostages earlier taken by Taliban militants have been freed, the interior ministry said Friday.

Sediqqi, who did not specify how many hostages had been released, told AFP that four or five attackers were involved in the assault on the hotel by Qargha lake, a popular beauty spot, two of whom have been killed.

The target of the attack appeared to be Afghan police and civilians, ISAF said.

Mohammad Zahir, the head of Kabul police criminal investigation department, said the attack began around 11:30 pm (1900 GMT) on Thursday, when two or three suicide attackers armed with rockets and Kalashnikov rifles stormed a wedding party.

At least one of the attackers detonated his explosive suicide vest, Zahir said.

The attacks sparked a gun battle which is ongoing. – Agence France-Presse