Kabul: A group of gunmen killed at least five people and wounded eight others in an attack on Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel on Saturday.
According to Afghan government officials, an intense gunbattle between the attackers and the security forces is still on.
In the ensuing gunbattle, the Afghan special security forces have killed two of the attackers, Najib Danish, the Interior Ministry spokesman, confirmed.
Security forces are trying to get to the others, he added.
Giving more details about the operation, Danish said, ''at least five floors of the Intercontinental Hotel have been cleared of insurgents. Over 100 guests and hotel staff have been safely rescued by the security forces.''
''The 6th floor of the hotel still needs to be cleared. The death toll is five and 6 people are wounded,'' he was quoted as saying by the TOLO News.
The gunmen stormed the hotel on Saturday evening, shooting at guests and detonating grenades.
Some reports said the hotel had been hosting an IT conference attended by provincial officials at the time. One witness earlier told Reuters news agency that the attackers had taken hostages.
The Afghan security forces were still trying to clear the landmark hilltop hotel with at least one attacker on the loose, a security source said.
Dramatic images aired on Afghanistan's Tolo News showed thick black smoke and flames billowing from the top floor of the hotel.
At least one person could be seen climbing over a top- floor balcony using bedsheets to escape, before loosing his grip and plunging to the ground.
At least four gunmen burst into the hotel on Saturday night, opening fire on guests and staff and taking dozens of people hostage, including foreigners.
The attack began at about 9 pm following which special forces were called in.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the latest assault in the war-torn Afghan capital that followed a series of security warnings in recent days to avoid hotels and other locations frequented by foreigners.
The US embassy in Kabul had issued a warning about hotels in the city.
"We are aware of reports that extremist groups may be planning an attack against hotels in Kabul," the embassy wrote in a public security alert published on Thursday, though it highlighted another hotel near the international airport as a possible target.
"These groups may also be targeting public gatherings/demonstrations, government facilities, transportation, markets, and places where foreigners are known to congregate."
(With Agency inputs)