The Intercontinental hotel is on fire during an attack in Kabul June 29. (Gemunu Amarasinghe/AP)

Pamela Constable reports:

The audacious and heavily armed assault, for which a Taliban spokesman quickly asserted responsibility, shattered any sense of security in the sprawling capital... [and it] comes as Afghanistan prepares to begin a transition from international to full domestic control of defense, security and civilian governance.

The Taliban spokesman released a statement Wednesday that said attackers had called during the siege to report killing at least 50 “foreign and local enemies” inside the hotel. Some attackers said they had reached all five floors of the hotel and had gone door to door, pulling guests out of their rooms to shoot them.

On their Facebook page, the Taliban praised the “martyr attack” on the hotel:

(Image from Facebook)

Tolo News journalist Ehsanullah Amiri wrote on Twitter that the Taliban had released the names of the eight attackers, who were from seven Afghan provinces, including Kunar, Zabul, Logar, Wardak, Kunduz, Paktia and Khost.

One guest in the hotel, an American Ph.D. student studying Afghan legal histoy named Saiz Ahmed, fearing imminent death, wrote his will while lying on the hotel floor.

This is the second attack in Kabul this year of a hotel frequented by foreigners. In February, the Safi Landmark hotel was struck by a suicide bomb. In January 2008, a commando squad stormed the luxury Serena Hotel in downtown Kabul, killing seven people, including several foreigners.