Afghan forces free up to 40 hostages in Kabul hotel siege

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Afghan security forces on Friday freed 35-40 hostages taken by Taliban insurgents in an attack on a lakeside hotel at a beauty spot on the outskirts of Kabul, the interior ministry said.

Militants armed with automatic weapons and rockets attacked the Spozhmai Hotel on Qargha Lake overnight, taking hostages and sparking gun battles with Afghan security forces who were supported by NATO forces.

Around eight hours after the assault began, interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi told AFP Afghan forces had freed between 35 and 40 hostages, including women and children.

Sediqqi said three hotel guards and at least one police officer were killed.

Just hours before the assault, President Hamid Karzai warned that attacks against local police and soldiers were increasing as they prepare to take over security when NATO combat troops leave in 2014.

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