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Page last updated at 16:06 GMT, Friday, 26 February 2010

BBC editor witnesses Taliban Kabul attack

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Even after the explosions, the unrest continued with shooting

BBC World Service Kabul bureau editor Dawood Azami found himself caught up amid explosions and gunfire which rocked the centre of the city leaving at least 17 people dead. Here he describes his experiences.

A huge explosion woke me up just before sunrise. An intense gun battle followed and bullets were fired from every direction.

Broken glass was everywhere in the hotel I was staying in. Two bullets went through the window of my hotel room.

It shared a back wall with one of the guest houses where the battle went on for hours. Glass from the windows of my room and bathroom littered my bed and the floor.

Nobody in my hotel knew what to do. I took shelter behind the bathroom wall and sat there for hours. The fighting would stop for a short while but then firing would restart from different directions.

Foreigners

From my room, I could hear the crying and shouting of hotel guests. I could tell from the way some of the guests in the Park Residence were crying - and by the languages they spoke - that they were foreigners.

Dawood Azami
The air was full of smoke and dust - and broken glass was scattered all over the floor
Dawood Azami

I could hear the security forces shouting at them to move in English and Hindi.

Firing from two sides went on for around four hours. I heard at least two heavy explosions that shook the whole building.

There was confusion. The hotel staff were running and looking for shelter. There were no announcements and nowhere obviously safe to go. I was glad to be behind the bathroom wall for the duration of the operation.

I switched on the television to find out what was happening but there was no signal and the channels were not available.

I opened the front door a few times to see what was going on in the hotel lobby. The air was full of smoke and dust - and broken glass was scattered all over the floor.

It was one of the most devastating attacks in Kabul.

The Ariya and Park Residence guest houses and the Safi Hotel and Shopping Centre were badly damaged. They are in the Shahr-e-Now (new city) area of Kabul which had been considered relatively safe.

I always wonder why people in Kabul use so much glass in buildings. Kabul is attacked frequently and each attack has caused a lot of damage to property and the heavily glassed structures.



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