Gunmen stormed a guesthouse in the Afghan capital popular with both foreigners and locals Wednesday night, launching a siege of the building and apparently taking some guests hostage, authorities said.
Details about how many people were held at Kabul's Park Palace hotel remained unclear into the night, as sporadic gunfire echoed around the guesthouse in a central neighborhood that is home to United Nations compounds and a foreign-run hospital.
Two explosions were heard later and four ambulances arrived at the scene afterward.
Amin Habi, a U.S. citizen from Los Angeles, said a party was going on at the hotel to honor a Canadian when the gunmen stormed the guesthouse. He said as many as 40 people, including foreigners and U.S. citizens, could still be inside. The hotel has both guest rooms for visitors and a residential area for those who live full time in Kabul.
Police officers freed about 20 people trapped in the guesthouse, but others remained inside, said Zia Massoud, an Afghan government official. He said at least one of those people was wounded.
Amar Sinha, India's ambassador to Afghanistan, said he believed at least six people still held inside were Indian citizens. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Twitter account said he was “concerned about the situation [and] I pray for everyone's safety.”
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, though Taliban fighters have attacked guesthouses before in Kabul.
Earlier Wednesday, gunmen killed 12 people and wounded another dozen in an attack on a government compound in the city of Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand province, authorities said.
Afghan security forces have been struggling to fend off Taliban attacks since U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces formally concluded their combat mission at the end of last year.