Taliban gunmen attack hotel Serena in Kabul

An eye witness claimed that the shooting started in the hotel's restaurant

Two people were wounded when four Taliban gunmen opened fire in a luxury hotel in the centre of the Afghan capital Kabul at around 6pm, according to police.

There were no details yet on the nationality of the pair.

Security sources said that the armed men entered the Serena hotel by a back door and told them they were going to dinner.

To enter the premises, guests must pass through an exterior gate and undergo a metal detector search and pat down.

Inside, they drew the pistols hidden in their socks and opened fire, Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said.

Bursts of gunfire could be heard from outside the hotel as Afghan troops cordoned off the area.

A hotel worker named Gulam Ali said that all the guests and staff members had taken refuge in the basement. 

"Everybody's fine," he told his brother Mohammed Nabil, who let an Associated Press reporter listen to the conversation. "Foreigners, workers, everybody is in the basement."

One person who was taken to safety along with other guests said that the shooting appeared to begin in the hotel restaurant.

Another guest, hiding in his room, said he could hear sporadic gunfire.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the assault on the Serena hotel.

"Our people, if they decide to attack any place, they can do it," he said.

United Nations staff and foreign delegations are currently staying at the hotel ahead of next month's Presidential elections, as it is considered to be the safest place to stay in the capital.

Also on Thursday, the Taliban let off a suicide bomb at a police station in Jalalabad , killing 10 officers and a university student.

The attacks come after the Taliban threatened to use violence to the disrupt 5 April elections.

The polls include provincial votes, but the most closely watched is the presidential race. Karzai's successor will guide the country for the next five years as most US and allied forces leave the country by the end of 2014.

Additional reporting by Reuters and AP

Read more: As Nato quits Afghanistan, new violence threatens the country's presidential electio
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...