KABUL - The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility on Thursday for an attack on a popular guesthouse in Kabul that officials said killed at least 11 people, including foreigners attending a dinner and arriving for a concert.
At least one American and two Indian nationals were confirmed among the dead at the Park Palace guesthouse in an upscale neighbourhood of central Kabul.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in an emailed statement one of the insurgents' operatives carried out the attack with the aim of killing foreign citizens in retaliation for the US and its allies supporting the Kabul government of President Ashraf Ghani. "The occupying forces should realise that they are not safe from our attacks under any cover or in any location," Mujahid said.
The official death toll rose from five to 11 on Thursday as more bodies were found after the five-hour standoff with police. "Unfortunately 11 people, including foreigners, were killed in the attack. It was one attacker and we are still investigating how he got in," police criminal investigation chief Farid Afzali Kabul said.
Another security official, who did not want to be named, put the number of dead at 14, but the information could not be immediately confirmed.
The US and Indian embassies confirmed their citizens were among the dead, but the nationalities of the others killed were not yet clear.
The shooting started on Wednesday night as some guests gathered for a dinner at the guest house and others were arriving for a concert.
The Taliban's Mujahid said that the single attacker armed with a pistol, AK-47 and explosive materials was targeting the concert. "We have pinpointed the location precisely and found out the exact time of the event," he said in a statement.
Police and army forces quickly surrounded the area but it was five hours before they could clear the building.
Kabul's police chief said 44 people were rescued during the operation.