A powerful Taliban truck bomb struck a hotel for foreigners in Kabul yesterday, triggering a seven-hour gun-and-bomb assault that highlighted the deteriorating security situation in a capital still reeling from its deadliest attack for 15 years.
The guests and staff of Northgate hotel were unharmed but one policeman was killed after the bombing, which rattled windows several kilometres away and paved the way for armed insurgents to enter the heavily guarded facility close to Kabul airport.
The compound housing foreign contractors was previously attacked in July 2013. Last month, Isis (Islamic State) claimed twin bombings that left 80 people dead in the Afghan capital, the deadliest attack in the city since the Taliban were ousted from power in 2001.
"A truck bomb packed with explosives struck the outer wall of the hotel," said Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi.
"One policeman lost his life and three others were wounded but none of the hotel staff or guests were hurt.
Local TV station Tolo cited a source inside the facility as saying that all the staff and guests - including 11 foreigners - hunkered down in safe rooms all through the night.Three Taliban fighters including the truck bomber were killed."
The assault comes as the Taliban ramp up their annual summer offensive after a brief lull during the holy fasting month of Ramadan, which ended in early July.
A chillingly similar Taliban attack on the compound in July 2013 - a truck bomb followed by a gun siege - killed nine people, including four Nepalese.
The July 23 Isis bombings tore through crowds of minority Shia Hazara protesters as they gathered to demand that a major power line be routed through the central province of Bamiyan, one of the most deprived areas of Afghanistan.