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Armed assailants broke into a hotel popular with Chinese businessmen in the Afghan capital on Monday afternoon. The outcome of this attack remains uncertain.
Armed assailants attacked a Kabul hotel popular with Chinese businessmen on Monday (December 12th), but the toll of the victims of this assault claimed by the Islamic State group remains uncertain. A hospital reported three dead and 18 wounded, while the Taliban mentioned two foreigners injured and claimed that three attackers had been killed.
The NGO Emergency, which runs a hospital in the capital where victims were transported, wrote in a tweet that it had received “21 wounded” and that “three were already dead” on their arrival, without specifying whether it was attackers.
The Islamic State group for its part said that two of its members had “attacked a large hotel frequented by Chinese diplomats and businessmen in Kabul, where they detonated two devices hidden in two bags”, one having targeted a party for Chinese guests and the other the reception hall.
One of the two fighters threw grenades at Taliban policemen who tried to arrest them, while the other began to activate explosive devices he had stuck on the doors of hotel rooms and to shoot at the customers of the facility, IS said in a statement.
No foreigners killed, Taliban say
The attack on the hotel, located in one of the capital’s main commercial areas, ended with “the death of three assailants”, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in the evening. .
“All hotel guests were rescued and no foreigners were killed. Only two foreign guests were injured when they jumped from the upper floor” of the establishment, he added.
A Kabul police spokesman confirmed that “three assailants were killed on the spot” and that “a suspect was arrested”, attributing the attack to “malicious elements”.
In videos posted on social media, flames can be seen on the first floor and hotel guests rushing to the windows. AFP journalists also saw a thick plume of smoke billowing from the establishment. Several witnesses said they heard at least five explosions and several bursts of gunfire.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price condemned this new wave of violence targeting “innocent civilians”.
The attack took place at the Longan Hotel, a multi-storey complex where more and more Chinese businessmen like to stay in Afghanistan since the return of the Taliban to power.
China, economic support for the Taliban
Beijing has not officially recognized the Taliban government, but China, which shares a 76 km border with Afghanistan, is one of the few countries to have maintained a diplomatic presence there. She has long feared that Afghanistan will become a base for the Uyghur minority coming from the very sensitive Chinese border region of Xinjiang.
The Taliban have promised that Afghanistan will not be used as a base by Uyghur militants. In exchange, Beijing offered them economic support and investments for the reconstruction of their country.
Maintaining stability in Afghanistan, after 20 years of war with the Americans and NATO forces, is the main concern of China, which seeks to secure its borders and its strategic investments in Pakistan, their common neighbor.
The Taliban are also counting on China to turn one of the world’s largest copper deposits into a mining factory. An exploitation that would be invaluable for redressing Afghanistan, short of money and hit by international economic sanctions.
The Taliban say they have improved security in their country since returning to power in August 2021, but numerous bomb attacks have been carried out in recent months, generally claimed by the local branch of the jihadist group Islamic State.