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5 militants dead, ending Kabul hostage situation that targeted U.S.-based group

By Qadir Seddiqi and Masoud Popalzai, CNN
updated 3:34 PM EDT, Fri March 28, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: A girl was killed and a security guard wounded in bombing, an official says
  • All 5 attackers are dead, officials say
  • The attack comes ahead of the Afghan presidential election
  • The Taliban have claimed responsibility

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Five militants set off a deadly car bomb and then stormed a guest house used by foreigners in Afghanistan's capital Friday, holding a number of people hostage during a standoff with police before one of them was shot dead and the four others blew themselves up, the country's deputy interior minister said.

A girl was killed and a security guard was wounded in the explosion at the beginning of the attack, said Deputy Interior Minister Gen. Mohammad Ayoub Salangi. Everyone who had been held inside the building escaped unharmed, he said.

The girl's name and information on her nationality weren't immediately available. A spokesman for the Interior Ministry, Sediq Sediqqi, said 20 foreign nationals were moved to a safe place during the attack.

He said the target of the attack was Roots of Peace, a U.S.-based aid organization whose offices are in the building. The group works with people of war-torn communities "to provide lasting economic opportunities," according to its Facebook page.

Afghanistan's violent vote
Taliban gunmen shoot family of 5

"Our guesthouse was under attack, but all our workers are safe," the organization's country director, Mohammad Sharif Osmani, told CNN.

The Taliban claimed responsibility, with a spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, saying they attacked a location used by foreigners as a church and for converting Afghans to Christianity.

The attack began when an unoccupied car containing a bomb exploded outside the building, the deputy interior minister said. As five militants stormed the guest house, police shot and killed one, he said.

The four others held inside the five people -- three Americans, a Malaysian and a person from an unspecified African country -- as a standoff with police unfolded, he said.

The Uzbek Embassy and offices of other organizations are located nearby, police said.

The attack came three days after militants stormed an election commission office in Kabul. That led to a five-hour gunbattle with Afghan security services in which five people were killed -- two police officers, two election commission workers and a provincial council candidate, a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry said.

The Taliban, who also claimed responsibility for Tuesday's attack, have vowed to use force to disrupt the planned April 5 presidential election.

Last week, the Taliban also claimed responsibility for an attack on the Afghan capital's Serena Hotel in which a reporter for the Agence France-Presse news agency, his wife and two of his three children were killed. Five others were also killed. The hotel was hosting celebrations to mark the eve of the Persian New Year.

READ: Afghanistan: Taliban militants carry out deadly attack on Kabul election office

READ: 'It wasn't his time': Afghan journalist, family slain at hotel mourned

Reported by Journalist Qadir Seddiqi and CNN's Masoud Popalzai and Anna Coren, in Kabul, written by Tom Watkins in Atlanta. CNN's Aliza Kassim, Jason Hanna and Joe Sterling contributed to this report.

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