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Kabul hotel attack leaves 18 dead, but toll could climb higher

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Unofficial reports cited by Tolo TV, the country’s most respected news channel, put the death toll as high as 43. The report could not be confirmed. Officials said 160 people, including 41 foreigners, were rescued from the hotel by special police forces.

The nationalities of those victims were not immediately known, but a spokesman for the Interior Ministry said most of the foreigners worked for Kam Air, a private Afghan airline, and one was from Ukraine.

In Kiev, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin tweeted that six Ukrainians had been reported killed in the attack.

The high-profile assault on the Intercontinental Hotel, a heavily guarded hilltop building that survived Soviet occupation, civil war and Taliban rule, was the latest in a string of deadly gun and bombing attacks in the capital that have targeted government intelligence facilities, hotels, mosques and other locations.

The Intercontinental is a frequent site for conventions, banquet and social events and is popular with foreign visitors. It was hosting a wedding and a meeting of government information and technology employees when the attackers stormed the compound Saturday night.

Security officials said all five attackers were killed by early Sunday after a sustained gun battle that erupted repeatedly throughout the night. Smoke and flames billowed from the building and helicopters hovered overhead, while armed security teams entered and cleared the seven-story building one floor at a time.

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