Gunmen attacked a central Kabul hotel on Wednesday evening (local time) reportedly killing five people, including one American. Several armed men entered the Park Palace hotel, a popular destination for both Afghans and foreigners, according to local officials. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, although the Wall Street Journal notes the Taliban targeted the luxury Serena Hotel last year during a spike in violence aimed at foreigners in the capital.
The attack reportedly lasted for hours before, the Guardian reports, six wounded and 54 hostages were rescued. “During the day, before the attack, the Park Palace had hosted a training conference for local and international NGO workers,” according to the Guardian. “Wednesday’s attack comes after the Taliban launched an offensive that is testing Afghan forces around the country,” the Journal reports. “Afghan and western officials expect the violence to intensify in coming months, even as they are hopeful the Kabul government can begin peace negotiations with the Taliban.”