A server named Haseeb told Afghan TV's Tolo News that two of the six Taliban thugs sauntered up to him at the height of the state-owned hotel's dinner rush at 9 p.m. Saturday. A statement by KamAir later said some of its flights were disrupted because of the attack.
"We mourn all those who lost their lives in the attack, whether Afghans or citizens of other countries", Tillerson said in a statement released by the State Department. Local media reports said the dead included Venezuelans and Ukrainians. German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Adebahr confirmed that a German was among those killed, without providing further details.
A Taliban spokesman said the insurgents had initially planned to attack the hotel on Thursday night but postponed the assault because there was a wedding underway and they wanted to avoid civilian casualties.
Kyrylych noted that there were many employees of airlines, including Ukrainians, at the hotel at the time of the attack.
Omeri said one of the assailants had earlier tried to flush out survivors by claiming to be Afghan police and that when North Atlantic Treaty Organisation special forces arrived they feared they could be attackers in disguise.
Once inside, they went through the ground and first floors, opening fire on staff and guests before moving quickly to the upper levels of the six-floor building.
The interior ministry had earlier blamed the Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network. It said a private company had taken over security about three weeks ago at the hotel, which is not part of the Intercontinental chain. Witnesses said the militants were targeting foreigners staying at the hotel.
Several armoured U.S. military vehicles with heavy machineguns could be seen close to the hotel along with Afghan police units as Special Forces manoeuvred around the site.
President Ashraf Ghani, Chief Executive Officer Abdullah, National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar, Afghanistan Ambassador in Pakistan and other government officials denounced the attack in strongest terms.
"As a member of the worldwide community, (we) will continue to support peace building efforts by the Afghan people", it added.