Picture: Smoke rising from Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul (PA Image)
At least 18 people - including 14 foreigners - were killed when the Taliban attacked the Intercontinental Hotel in Afghanistan's capital, Kabul, the Interior Ministry confirmed.
Spokesman Najib Danish said 11 of the 14 foreigners killed were employees of KamAir, a private Afghan airline.
The twelve-hour siege of the Intercontinental Hotel began late last night when five gunmen armed with suicide vests entered the hotel, targeting foreigners and officials.
Afghan special forces brought the attack to an end this afternoon when the last militant was killed.
More than 150 people, including 41 foreigners, have been rescued from the hotel.
As the fighting raged, a fire broke out and the sound of explosions could be heard throughout the standoff.
Live TV footage showed people trying to escape through windows on the upper stories.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the insurgents 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.
The assault comes days after the US embassy warned of possible attacks on hotels in the city
The heavily protecting luxury hotel was previously attacked by the Taliban in 2011.
Captain Tom Gresback, a spokesman for Nato-led forces, said in a statement that Afghan forces were leading the response efforts. He said that according to initial reports;
"No foreign troops were hurt in the attack."
It is understood the British Embassy does not allow official visitors to stay in hotels overnight and all embassy staff have been accounted for.