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Afghan Special Forces moved through Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel floor by floor on Sunday (January 21) fighting the surviving gunmen who attacked the hotel a day earlier, seizing hostages and staging an overnight siege.
As day broke on Sunday, thick clouds of black smoke could be seen pouring from the building. Several armoured U.S. military vehicles with heavy machine guns could be seen close to the hotel along with Afghan police units.
Najib Danish, an interior ministry spokesman, said at least five people had been killed and six wounded in the raid, which came days after a U.S. embassy warning of possible attacks on hotels in Kabul.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the latest in a long series of attacks which have underlined the city's precarious situation and the ability of militants to mount high profile operations aimed at undermining confidence in the Western-backed government.
The Intercontinental Hotel, an imposing 1960s structure set on a hilltop and heavily protected like most public buildings in Kabul, was previously attacked by Taliban fighters in 2011. While it shares the same name, the hotel in Kabul is not part of InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), which issued a statement in 2011 saying that "the hotel Inter-continental in Kabul is not part of IHG and has not been since 1980".