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Kabul is aflame and the Haqanni faction of the Taliban mounted a murderous assault on the Intercontinental hotel yesterday. The attackers who came dressed in Afghan army uniforms were able to penetrate inside the hotel. The Afghan government has confirmed that 40 hotel guests are dead including the five attackers who stormed the hotel. The gun battle commenced at 9 PM and continued for 12 hours until the last terrorist was neutralized. CNN has reported 18 killed but the Afghan Government has admitted to nearly 40 killed including many foreigners.

The attack

The largest number of foreigners killed were from Ukraine and belonged to the Ukraine airline which operates flights to Kabul.

The crew was housed in the hotel. The Taliban has claimed credit for the attack. The Afghan government has alleged that the attacks were carried out by the Haqanni faction of the Taliban, which is supported by Pakistan and have a sanctuary in the NW tribal mountains of Pakistan.

The attack appears similar to the attack by terrorists on the Taj Mahal hotel in Mumbai in 2008. At that time also, the terrorists had come from Pakistan. This time the Afghan army had to clear the hotel floor by floor. Nearly 152 hotel residents escaped the terror attack by using linen and bedsheets to scale down from the hotel windows. It appears all the terrorists have not been neutralized as TOLO news channel has reported, that two attackers were still inside the hotel and gunshots could be heard.

Haqqani network

The US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, issued a statement on Sunday condemning the attack.

American intelligence was expecting an attack and had warned the Kabul government of an impending attack on hotels in the Kabul area. The President of Ukraine has also condemned the attack.

The Afghan Interior Ministry blamed the Haqqani network for the attack. The group is based in the Pakistani tribal area of Waziristan and is well known for attacking targets associated with the US and NATO. The network has close ties with al Qaeda and has a single point agenda - to restore Taliban rule in Afghanistan.

American reaction

Doubtless, the news of the attack and the involvement of the Haqqani faction would have been given to Donald Trump. Just three weeks earlier the President had singled out Pakistan as a "deceitful" nation and had said giving 33 billion dollars in aid were a waste. He had threatened to stop all aid to Pakistan.

The latest terror attack has brought home to the US and Trump, that there are no easy options in Afghanistan. The President will have to catch the Pak bull by the horns to restore peace in Afghanistan. That is the only way.