NATO forces and elite Afghan police have ended a 12-hour siege at a popular lakeside hotel outside Kabul.
At least 20 people were killed after Taliban gunmen stormed the building, bursting into a wedding party and seizing dozens of hostages.
Afghan authorities say up to 15 guests, two hotel guards and a policeman were killed in the gunbattle. Five attackers were also shot dead.
Terrified guests jumped into the lake in the darkness to escape the carnage according to Afghan officials and residents. Up to 300 people had been inside the hotel when the daring attack began.
The night-time assault on the hotel with rocket-propelled grenades, suicide vests and machine guns again shows how potent the Islamist insurgency remains after a decade of war.
Launching their annual spring offensive, the Taliban threatened strikes against more government officials and rich targets, but rarely in the 11-year war have the Taliban taken multiple hostages.
General John Allen, the commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan said the attack bore the signature of the Taliban-linked Haqqani group that, he said, continued to operate from Pakistan, a charge that could further escalate tensions with Islamabad.
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