This is the terrifying moment hotel guests knotted bedsheets together and abseiled over balcony windows as they tried to escape rampaging terrorists who were hunting for foreigners to kill in a luxury hotel.
The Taliban attackers killed 19 people in a 13-hour siege at the Intercontinental hotel in Afghanistan yesterday.
The heavily-armed men burst into the hotel in Kabul and took around 100 people hostage.
Panicked hotel guests trapped on balconies on higher floors of the hotel were caught on mobile phone being lowered to safety on bedsheets which had been tied together.
Meanwhile upper floors were filling with smoke from grenade blasts – and parts of the hotel were set ablaze in the melee.
Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry said 19 people (14 foreigners and five Afghans) were killed in the assault by several insurgents who stormed the five-star hotel.
Some 11 of the 14 foreigners killed were employees of Kam Air, a private Afghan airline.
The nationalities of three victims are yet to be confirmed.
Nine are Ukrainians, one is Greek and one is from Kazakhstan, according to the ministry.
Roughly 100 people were taken hostage and the siege ended when the last heavily-armed attacker was killed in a shootout with Afghan security forces, backed by Norwegian troops.
Several people managed to escape to the hotel’s outdoor pool area where they hid, listening to the attack unfold just metres away.
One guest, Aziz Tayeb, said:
“I saw people who were enjoying themselves a second ago screaming and fleeing like crazy, and some of them falling down, hit by bullets.
“I could repeatedly hear blasts one after another, hand grenades, they used many grenades.
“We contacted security officials who arrived an hour later and as we were being escorted out I saw five or six bodies outside the hotel.
“The second, third and fifth floors were on fire – the fifth floor was engulfed in flames.”
Abdul Rahman Naseri, a guest who was at the hotel for a conference, was in the hall of the hotel when he saw four gunmen dressed in army uniforms.
“They were shouting in Pashto (language), ‘Don’t leave any of them alive, good or bad’. ‘Shoot and kill them all,’ one of them shouted,” Naseri said.
“I ran to my room on the second floor. I opened the window and tried to get out using a tree but the branch broke and I fell to the ground. I hurt my back and broke a leg.”
Britain’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Sir Nicholas Kay described the attack as “barbarous”, adding on Twitter: “I salute the bravery of the Afghan security forces.
“When it’s over, Kabul will show its resilience again.”
The hotel, which has 200 rooms and four restaurants, was one of Afghanistan’s first luxury hotels when it opened in 1969.