- (Photo: Reuters/Omar Sobhani)
Members of the Afghan Taliban took an entire hotel in Kabul hostage for several hours. Twenty people were left dead after the 12-hour standoff, which is being blamed on the Taliban-linked Haqqani group, which operates from Pakistan.
According to reports, nearly 300 people were initially taken hostage when several members of the Haqqani group stormed the building. The militants were armed with grenades and heavy machine guns, and many guests of the hotel jumped out their windows into a lake to escape.
"Afghan National Security Forces and coalition military sources acknowledge that this attack bears the signature of the Haqqani network, which continues to target and kill innocent Afghans and blatantly violate Afghan sovereignty from the safety of Pakistan," General John Allen stated.
Afghan Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said that 12 to 15 civilians were killed alongside two hotel guards and a policeman. Five militants were also killed, and there is fear that the Haqqani group is trying the United States' patience with Pakistan.
When it was discovered that Osama bin Laden had been hiding in the mountains of Pakistan, tensions grew between the U.S. and Pakistan. Attacks on U.S. troops have escalated in recent months, though the U.S. has been slow to react to the Haqqani group's acts.
"This is a crime against humanity because they targeted children, women and civilians picnicking at the lake. There wasn't even a single soldier around there," General Mohammad Zair, head of the Kabul police investigation unit, told Reuters.
As the U.S. prepares to leave Afghanistan by 2014, fears of increasing violence are rampant. Afghan President Hamid Karzai told members of parliament that attacks by insurgents were steadily increasing, even as the U.S. has pledged to help stabilize the country during the uncertain drawdown process.