Death toll from Kabul hotel attack rises; Pakistan calls for probe

Jan. 22 (UPI) — The government of Pakistan on Monday called for an investigation into the Taliban-led attack on Kabul’s Intercontinental Hotel over the weekend.

The often-targeted hotel was the scene of a 12-hour attack Saturday by six men wearing uniforms of the Afghan army. Armed with rocket-propelled grenades and other weapons, they took hotel guests hostage.

Officials said about 160 people were rescued after the Afghan army fought to gain control of the building. The Taliban later claimed responsibility.

The death toll in the rampage so far varies widely. The Afghan health ministry announced the deaths of 22 people, while Afghanistan’s TOLO News reported at least 43 dead, with many seriously injured.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry called for an investigation Monday and rejected allegations that Pakistani-based insurgents were involved in the attack.

“We reject the knee-jerk allegations by some Afghan circles that point the finger at Pakistan for the terrorist attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Faisal said in a statement. “There is a need for a credible investigation into the attack, including reported security lapses.”

Widespread condemnation of the attack, one of the most deadly in months in Kabul, came from around the world, including the United States.

“The U.S. Embassy is in close contact with Afghan authorities, who are continuing to investigate the incident,” the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said in a statement.

The attack comes as Pakistan is under increasing pressure over alleged links to international terrorism.

In a Twitter message earlier this month, President Donald Trump said, “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

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