Gunmen storm Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul

The Inter Continental Hotel is situated on a hill overlooking Kabul

"Afghan National Defense and Security Forces are leading the response efforts".

There were no immediate claims of responsibility for the ongoing attack.

Details of the incident, including information on any casualties, were unclear but the attackers appeared to have included suicide bombers, ministry spokesman Najib Danish said.

An official told AFP news agency the gunmen were "shooting at guests". Twenty-one people were killed including nine attackers.

According to local police sources, several people have been taken hostage and some killed.

The attack was the latest strike on a high-profile target in Kabul, deepening worries about the ability of militants to strike at the heart of Afghanistan's leadership.

However, the warning was centred on another hotel near the worldwide airport. TOLO news journalist Gulabuddin Ghubar said that an unknown number of attackers were holed up in the kitchen and some rooms. "Some parts of the building caught fire following the gunfire and grenade explosions", an eyewitness told Xinhua earlier.

Rahimi said the first and second floors of the hotel have been secured by Afghan forces, who are now trying to clear the fourth and fifth floors.

Security in Kabul has been tightened since May 31 when a massive truck bomb ripped through the diplomatic quarter, killing some 150 people and wounding around 400 others- mostly civilians.



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