Video shows gunmen carrying out deadly Afghan hotel attack
By Kim Gamel, AP
March 24, 2014, 12:33 am TWN
KABUL, Afghanistan--Security guards searched four attackers — twice — before allowing them to enter an Afghan hotel where the young men proceeded to the restaurant and killed nine diners, including four foreigners and an AFP journalist, his wife and two children, according to chilling closed-circuit video broadcast Saturday by a local TV station.
The question of how the gunmen penetrated the tight security of the Serena hotel — considered one of the safest spots in the Afghan capital — with pistols and ammunition is one of the biggest mysteries surrounding Thursday's attack. Afghan authorities have said the attackers hid the weaponry in the soles of their shoes, wrapped in plastic. Interior Ministry spokesman Seddiq Seddiqi displayed the tiny pistols, which fit in the palm of a hand, ammunition and large shoes at a press conference on Friday.
But the three-story hotel is surrounded by a fence and visitors must pass through two gates and a metal detector before crossing a courtyard to the lobby entrance. Bombings and shootings are common in Afghanistan, and many establishments have guests searched before allowing them to enter. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault and said it proves they can strike anywhere.
The 14 minutes of video, obtained by the private Ariana TV station and shared with The Associated Press, show four men clad in traditional tunics and loose trousers known as shalwar kameez walking through the perimeter gate. They start toward security before they are apparently called back by the guards to be searched, with the timestamp showing it is 6:57 p.m. The cameras then capture images of the men placing ID cards and other items on a tray by a conveyer belt before passing through the metal detector. A guard then gives each one a more thorough pat down before letting them through the door.
The Serena has one of the strictest protocols of places frequented by foreigners, but it is rare to be searched at the first gate, suggesting something about the men had raised suspicion.
Authorities said two of the gunmen went to the restaurant and killed seven victims by shooting them in the head while two other victims were found in the halls. Police also killed all four attackers after a three-hour standoff. The camera appears to follow the four men as they make their way through the lobby at one point turning to a man with a phone before entering the hall that leads to the restaurant.