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Attack at guesthouse kills 5, including an American, Afghan police report

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Gunmen stormed a guesthouse in the Afghan capital as it hosted a party for foreigners, and authorities said five people, including an American, were killed during an hourslong siege that ended early this morning. Six people were wounded and 54 hostages rescued.

Kabul police chief Gen. Abdul Rahman Rahimi said the attack began at 8:30 p.m. local time yesterday, when attackers opened fire at the restaurant of the Park Palace Hotel. He had no breakdown on the nationalities of the victims, but a U.S. Embassy spokeswoman said an American was among the dead.

Throughout the standoff, sporadic gunfire echoed around the guesthouse in a central neighborhood that is home to United Nations compounds and a foreign-run hospital. At one point, two explosions could be heard and four ambulances later arrived at the scene.

Amin Habib, a U.S. citizen from Los Angeles, told The Associated Press that a party was going on at the hotel to honor a Canadian when the gunmen stormed the guesthouse.

The embassy spokeswoman, Monica Cummings, said in a statement only that a U.S. citizen was killed, but gave no further details and did not identify the victim.

Earlier yesterday, police officers freed some 20 people trapped in the guesthouse, but others had remained inside, said Zia Massoud, an Afghan government official.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, though the Taliban have targeted guesthouses before in Kabul. -- AP


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