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Afghanistan attack: AFP reporter among 9 dead in Kabul hotel

By Laura Smith-Spark and Saad Abedine, CNN
updated 8:42 AM EDT, Fri March 21, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • AFP says staff reporter Sardar Ahmad is among those killed in an attack on a Kabul hotel
  • His wife and two of his children were also among the nine who died, news agency says
  • Police say four teenagers with pistols carried out the attack in the Serena Hotel

(CNN) -- A staff reporter for the Agence France-Presse news agency, his wife and two of his three children were among nine civilians killed in an attack on a hotel in the Afghan capital, the news agency said Friday.

The incident began when four teenagers entered the Serena Hotel in central Kabul on Thursday and started shooting randomly, according to police.

AFP said journalist Sardar Ahmad started working for the news agency in 2003 and went on to become its senior reporter in Kabul, "covering all aspects of life, war and politics in his native country" and specializing in security issues. He also founded the Kabul Pressistan private news agency, AFP said.

The hotel was hosting special celebrations at the time of the attack to mark the eve of the Persian New Year, or Nowruz, AFP said. Nowruz is a major holiday in Afghanistan.

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Gen. Mohammad Ayoub Salangi, the deputy interior minister, said Thursday that those killed included Afghans and foreigners, children and adults. Six people were also injured.

Afghan security forces killed the four gunmen, who police said were under 18 and were "government opponents."

Police said they believe the gunmen entered the hotel by smuggling small pistols in their shoes and then hid in the bathroom for several hours before launching their attack.

The hotel also was the site of a shooting, in January 2008, that killed seven people. The Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack.

Thursday's attack was the latest to claim the lives of foreigners in the Afghan capital. This month, gunmen shot and killed a Swedish journalist. In January, a bomb and gun attack by the Taliban on a restaurant in Kabul killed 21 people, most of them foreigners.

Earlier Thursday, in eastern Afghanistan, Taliban militants stormed a police station in Jalalabad, the country's Interior Ministry said.

At least 11 people were killed and 22 were injured in the ensuing gunbattle, and at least six attackers were killed, according to a doctor at the hospital.

The militant group has threatened to carry out attacks before next month's presidential election.

Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said fighters will "continue to attack the pro-U.S. Afghan establishment."

Canada pulls out of Kabul as NATO winds down Afghan operations

Suicide blast rips through bazaar in northern Afghanistan

CNN's Ed Payne contributed to this report.

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