Kabul Park Palace Hotel attack kills 14

An Afghan policeman guards the gate of a guest house after an attack in Kabul May 14, 2015 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption By Thursday morning the guesthouse had been cleared

Fourteen people have been killed in an attack on a Kabul hotel which was packed with foreigners awaiting a concert, according to Afghan officials.

As well as Afghan civilians, the dead include one Briton with dual Afghan nationality, four Indians, two Pakistanis, and one citizen from each of the US, Italy and Kazakhstan.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The incident at the Park Palace Hotel began early on Wednesday evening.

Gunfire could still be heard from the guesthouse in central Kabul five hours later as Afghan forces retook the building room by room.

Some reports said that two suspected gunmen were among the dead - police said they were shot before they could carry out a suicide attack.

Image copyright AP
Image caption The hotel was under siege for several hours after the attack began on Wednesday evening

The gunmen reportedly went room to room seeking foreigners.

Georgette Gagnon, of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, condemned the attack as an "atrocity".

"Taliban statements on avoiding civilian casualties ring hollow when we set them against the latest killings," she said.

Security forces rescued more than 50 people who had been at a party in the garden of the hotel, where a well known Afghan classical singer was due to perform.

"The attack was planned carefully to target the party in which important people and Americans were attending," the Taliban said in a statement.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Afghan singer Altaf Hussain (centre) was due to sing at the hotel

India's Prime Minister Nahendra Modi tweeted that he had spoken to the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani about the attack.

"We are one when it comes to fighting terror," he said. He added that the president "expressed sadness on the unfortunate demise of Indian citizens in the attack".

US embassy spokeswoman Monica Cummings confirmed that one US citizen had died in the attack.

"Our thoughts are with the families of the victims at this time," Ms Cummings said.

David Loyn, BBC Afghanistan correspondent, Kabul

This incident raises several questions.

The Taliban says there was only one attacker, but some police sources said there were more.

Was there a failed suicide attack, and why did it take the police so long to secure the building?

In the past Pakistan has been blamed by the Afghan government for violent acts of this sort.

But this attack comes at a time of good relations between the two countries, amid signs that a peace deal with the Taliban may be possible.

President Ashraf Ghani is coming under pressure to deliver on that promise and end insecurity.