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Gunmen launch attack on Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul

KABUL, Afghanistan — A lull in the shooting has come over the Intercontinental Hotel in the Afghan capital of Kabul where earlier several gunmen launched an attack, according to officials from Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior Affairs.

No gunfire had been heard for about an hour and ambulances were at the scene, a witness who lives near the hotel told CNN during the early morning hours Sunday.

A few ambulances have left the hotel property, presumably taking people to hospitals, Afghan news agency TOLO reported.

Nasrat Rahimi, a deputy spokesman for the ministry, earlier told CNN that Afghan special forces were trying to engage the attackers.

Two of four attackers in the hotel have been killed, Rahimi said. He said the hotel’s third floor, where the kitchen is located, had caught fire.

The attackers had been in the kitchen, then moved to the fourth floor, an Afghan special forces commander told CNN.

Ambulance crews “are on the site, waiting for a green light to get in,” Dr. Wahid Majrooh, the country’s minister of public health, said earlier.

The US State Department had warned this week of a possible attack in Kabul.

“Security Alert for #Kabul, #Afghanistan: reports that extremist groups may be planning an attack against hotels in Kabul, such as the Hotel Baron near Hamid Karzai Int’l Airport,” the agency said Thursday on Twitter.

Foreigners are among the hotel guests, but it wasn’t immediately known how many or their nationalities, Rahimi said.

Hotel was attacked in 2011

In June 2011, seven Taliban fighters attacked the same hotel over several hours. In the end, all seven, along with 11 other people, were dead.

The InterContinental Hotels Group developed the hotel, which opened in 1969. But the hotel has had no association with the group since the Soviet invasion in 1979, though it continues to use the name without connection to the international company.