The Ministry of Interior has announced that the siege of the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul has ended on the morning of Sunday, January 21. According to local sources, despite an announcement that floor-to-floor clearance operations had ended on Sunday morning, gunfire and explosions were heard at around 10:30 (local time). These have been put down to final clearance operations by the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). Further controlled explosions may be heard at the hotel as residual munitions and explosives continue to be cleared in coming hours. The threat from attacking militants is now considered over.
The ministry reported that three militants and five civilians were killed and six others wounded after gunmen stormed the hotel on Saturday evening. The ministry also said that 126 people were rescued from the hotel, including 41 foreigners. No militant group has yet to claim responsibility for the attack. Police cordons and traffic congestion will likely remain in the area throughout the day as post-incident investigations and emergency services attend the scene. The area should be avoided if possible.
Additionally, extant threat reporting of a potential vehicle-borne explosive device (VBIED) in the city remains in place, and a heightened security posture from ANSF should be expected, especially at security checkpoints and static locations across the city.
Unidentified gunmen stormed the hotel on Saturday, January 20 at around 21:00 (local time); the attackers had reportedly taken several people hostage within the hotel, setting fire to the third, fourth, and fifth floors. The US Department of State previously issued a warning on Thursday, January 18, regarding the possibility of an impending attack targeting a hotel in Kabul. The Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul was attacked by Taliban militants in 2011.
On Saturday, official sources had identified a credible threat of attack by anti-government elements in Kabul city, with reporting of two planned VBIED attacks possibly targeting hotels in the city; the threat warning remains in place.
Individuals present in Kabul are advised to avoid the Intercontinental Hotel area if possible, to obey all instructions issued by the local authorities, and continue to monitor the situation.
Due to major security concerns, individuals throughout Afghanistan are urged to keep a safe distance from large gatherings, military convoys, government buildings, and crowded urban areas. Many Western governments advise their citizens against travel to Afghanistan due to the high threat of kidnapping and terrorism, including frequent attacks against Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, local civilians and politicians, and individuals working in the humanitarian and reconstruction fields. Travel to the country should only be undertaken with proper security protocols in place.