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Kabul hotel attack continues, now in its 17th hour

At least 22 people died when Taliban militants in suicide vests stormed the hotel in the Afghan capital. Photograph:( Reuters ) New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 21, 2018, 09.12 AM (IST)

The attack on the Kabul Intercontinental Hotel continues, reporters at the site have told WION. 

The reporters, stationed outside the hotel, said the sound of gunfire and explosions could still be heard from inside. It is thought two attackers are still within the premises. 

Afghanistan's Interior Ministry has said earlier on Sunday that the attack on the hotel was over. 

The interior ministry had said then that three attackers had been killed, and that 126 people, including 41 foreigners, had been rescued. 

It added that five civilians had been killed and six wounded. 

The Taliban however, which has now taken responsibility for the attack, has said there were five attackers involved. If that is correct, that means two gunmen are still somewhere inside the hotel premise. 

Media outlets are now also reporting the death toll as six, not five. The sixth victim they are saying is a foreigner -- a woman. 

Also read: At least 5 dead in Kabul hotel attack, 100 hostages rescued

Also read: Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel under attack 'by at least four gunmen'

The attackers had barged into the hotel on Saturday night, which was due to host an IT conference today. 

"Four attackers are inside the building," an official at the National Directorate of Security (NDS) spy agency told AFP at the beginning of the attack. They are "shooting at guests", he said.

Hotel guests inside, speaking to people outside, said they saw scenes of celebration turn into a chaotic nightmare in a minute. And that they saw people running in terror, some of them falling as they got hit by bullets. 

News reports had quoted a number of guests saying over the phone that were hiding in their rooms, and begging the security services to come rescue them. Later, the reports said, they found the guests' phones switched off. 

Special forces were early Sunday morning dropped onto the roof of the luxury hotel by helicopter. 

By late Sunday morning, thick black smoke was billowing out of parts of the hotel. 

The Taliban had also attacked the Intercontinental in 2011.