The details of a serious Taliban attack on the Kabul-Intercontinental are still unfolding. Reports from Kabul are confused. Some reporters have been told by Afghan police that the situation is under control, but there have also been reports of gunshots and explosions heard in the area since.
The hotel was full at the time of the attack, with a wedding party poolside and at least one other function in the hotel ballroom. Journalists in Kabul have reported rumors that some Afghan governors may have been in the hotel at the time of the attack, but that's currently unconfirmed.
Saad Mohseni, who runs Tolo TV and has a team of Afghan journalists who answer to him, wrote on Twitter that he'd heard that 10 people had been killed in the attack. Sorting out the extent of the casualties and the number of attackers with any great certainty, however, will probably take a few more hours.
Still, the attack is a clear reminder that Kabul is not as secure as it once was. And the overall picture has been bleak during this summer's "fighting season." The UN said that May was the deadliest month for Afghan civilians since the US-led war began in 2001. Though the picture is worrying, Kabul is actually a little safer so far this year than in the first half of last year, when 13 Taliban attacks were carried out in the city.
This evening's attack was at least the sixth inside the city so far this year. What were the others?
1. On June 18, Taliban suicide bombers disguised as Afghan soldiers attacked a Kabul police station, killing four cops and five civilians. One member of the three-man team blew himself up at the gate to force a way in, and his two companions entered firing automatic rifles before they were shut dead by police.
2. On May 21, six people were killed in a Taliban suicide attack on Kabul's main military hospital. The victims were all civilians, some Afghan medical students.
3. On February 14, two people were murdered by a suicide bomber at the entrance to Kabul's Safi Landmark Hotel.
4. On January 28, eight people were killed by a suicide bomber at Kabul's Finest Supermarket. Finest is popular with foreigners in Kabul and is an upscale part of the city.
5. On January 12, a Taliban suicide attack on a minibus in Kabul killed two people. The Taliban claimed the minibus was transporting members of Afghanistan's spy agency.