The Islamic State in Khorasan Province (ISKP) has claimed responsibility for today’s attack against a Kabul hotel popular with Chinese nationals.
Kabul hotel attack update. pic.twitter.com/HEJvf8YQOx
— Brijesh Singh (@Brijeshbsingh) December 12, 2022
The attack began around 2:30 pm local time, when gunmen armed with pistols and explosives stormed the Kabul Longan Hotel, which is popular amongst Chinese businessmen and diplomats. Guests could be seen trying to flee the gunmen and a large fire set during the attack by jumping out of windows. According to Taliban officials, the siege ended after several hours when three gunmen were killed by security forces.
Hours after the attack, ISKP claimed responsibility, saying that only two militants were involved. The terror group released a message through its social media channels, which stated:
“By the grace of God Almighty, two soldiers of the Caliphate attacked a large hotel frequented by diplomats and businessmen from communist China, in the city of (Kabul), where the two mujahideen detonated two explosive bags planted previously, one of which targeted a party of the Chinese, while the second targeted the visitors’ reception hall on the first floor. Then someone ambushed Al-Inghmasi on the second floor and he began throwing hand grenades at the apostate Taliban trying to board, while the other al-Inghmasi began exploding the apartment doors upwards with sticky bombs and shooting at the Chinese, which resulted in killing and injuring no less than 30 infidels and apostates and burning parts of the hotel. Thanks to God.”
Note: “Al-Inghmasi” is considered to be the highest title a militant can earn, which is when one is sent on a mission and not expected to return home.
The militants seem to be armed with two 9x18mm Soviet Makarov PM/East German Pistole-M pistols , F-1 hand grenades, explosives and suicide belt with UZRGM fuze. pic.twitter.com/zLH8ha7coJ
— War Noir (@war_noir) December 12, 2022
The message was accompanied by footage of the two suspects, identified as Abu Umar and Abdul Jabbar, pledging allegiance to the Caliph, as well as pictures of the weapons and explosives used.
So far the Taliban has not commented on a casualty number from the attack. The only official statement has come from Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, who claimed that “All guests in the hotel have been rescued and no foreign national killed.” There has also been no confirmation from Chinese officials. An Italian NGO-run hospital close to the attack site reported that they had received “21 casualties – 3 were already dead on arrival.” Their report did not specify the nationalities of the casualties. It is speculated that the casualty amount is much higher than what is being reported, considering the history of the Taliban’s truthfulness, or lack thereof.
Today, the Chinese Ambassador to Kabul Mr. Wang Yu called on Deputy Foreign Minister Sher Mohammad Abbas Stankzai to discuss issues of mutual interest.
The Chinese ambassador expressed his satisfaction over the overall security in Afghanistan, calling on the Islamic Emirate pic.twitter.com/y1tEgR47YR
— Abdul Qahar Balkhi (@QaharBalkhi) December 11, 2022
This attack comes just a day after the Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan, Wang Yu, met with Taliban Deputy Foreign Minister Sher Mohammad Abbas Stankzai over the security situation in the country. According to Taliban Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi, Yu expressed his “satisfaction over the overall security in Afghanistan,” but called for increased security at the Chinese Embassy in Kabul, which comes after an attempted ISKP assassination of Pakistani Chargé d’affaires Ubaid-ur-Rehman Nizamani at the Pakistani embassy earlier this month.
China has been attempting to leverage the Taliban for protection in exchange for increased investment opportunities, which comes as the IEA faces several billions of dollars frozen in international funds. Since the withdrawal of international forces and the Taliban takeover in August 2021, China has sought to tap into Afghanistan’s economic potential, laying the foundation for Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) expansion into the country through trade and investments, as well as exploiting the vast natural resources the country has to offer, such as oil, gas, copper, gold, lithium, and other rare earth metals. The Taliban, however, have not been able to control the growing threat of ISKP, who have ramped up attacks since last year, which will continue to make Chinese investors weary of working in the country.