KABUL: Armed men opened fire on Monday inside a hotel in central Kabul popular with Chinese nationals, two Taliban sources told Reuters, in the latest violence in Afghanistan as it tries to stabilise after the withdrawal of U.S.-led foreign forces.
While the firing was continuing in the hotel, a fire broke out on one of the floors, the sources said, adding that they expect casualties.
A video posted on Twitter by a journalist in Kabul, verified by Reuters, showed smoke billowing out of a multi-storey building, with one lower floor on fire.
The attack took place around 2:30 p.m. local time when armed men targeted a hotel where "common people were staying", Kabul police spokesman Khalid Zadran said, adding that forces were trying to secure the area.
Residents of the area said the attack was carried out at a building where Chinese and other foreigners usually stay. The shooting continued after they heard a powerful explosion, they said.
The attack came a day after China's ambassador met the Afghan deputy foreign minister to discuss security-related matters and sought more attention on the security of its embassy.
A spokesman of the Taliban-run Afghan administration, Zabihullah Mujahid, confirmed to Reuters of an attack in Kabul, but said they would not be able to provide more information at this stage.
China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported that the attack took place near a Chinese guesthouse and that its embassy in Kabul was closely monitoring the situation.
The embassy did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.
Several bombing and shooting attacks have taken place in Afghanistan in recent months, some of which have been claimed by Islamic State militants.
The Islamist Taliban, who seized power after U.S.-led foreign forces withdrew in August 2021, have said they are focused on securing the country.