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 the time the siege got over, thick black smoke was billowing out of parts of the hotel.
Local television channel TOLO News however is still reporting that the sound of gunfire can be heard emanating from the hotel.
And some media outlets are reporting that the final death count is six, not five. And that the dead include a foreigner -- a woman.
So far, nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack. The Kabul Intercontinental however was also attacked in 2011 by the Taliban.