US, UK tell citizens to avoid Kabul hotels over security threats

The warning came days after an attack claimed by Daesh that killed dozens at a mosque in Afghanistan’s Kunduz city.

The sun sets over Kabul, Afghanistan on October 7, 2021. (Reuters)

The United States and Britain have warned their citizens to avoid hotels in Afghanistan, days after dozens were killed at a mosque in an attack claimed by Daesh.

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The Taliban, which seized power in August is seeking international recognition and assistance to avoid a humanitarian disaster and ease Afghanistan’s economic crisis.

But, as the group transitions from a rebel army to a governing power, they are struggling to contain the threat from the Afghanistan chapter of Daesh.

“US citizens who are at or near the Serena Hotel should leave immediately,” the US State Department said on Monday, citing “security threats” in the area.

‘Increased risks’

“In light of the increased risks you are advised not to stay in hotels, particularly in Kabul (such as the Serena Hotel),” Britain’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office added.

Since the Taliban takeover, many foreigners have left Afghanistan, but some journalists and aid workers remain in the capital.

The well-known Serena, a luxury hotel popular with business travellers and foreign guests, has twice been the target of attacks by the Taliban in the past.

In 2014, just weeks before the presidential election, four teenage gunmen killed nine people.

In 2008, a suicide bombing left six dead.

The terror threat has partly overshadowed Taliban efforts to improve their international standing.

Over the weekend, senior Taliban and US delegations held their first face-to-face talks in the Qatar capital Doha since the US withdrawal.

The talks “focused on security and terrorism concerns and safe passage for US citizens, other foreign nationals and our Afghan partners,” according to State Department spokesman Ned Price.

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