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‘Not our hotel!’ says IHG as famous property is attacked

January 23, 2018 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

The décor and location are striking and some say it’s the best hotel in the country – but grim warnings have proved correct and the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is keen to let the world know it is not involved in the management.

When several gunmen, apparently part of a Taliban Islamist suicide squad, attacked the famous Intercontinental Hotel Kabul in Afghanistan’s capital on Saturday, they killed at least 22 people and wounded many others. They set the building on fire and took hostages from among staff and guests, with some guests trapped in their rooms and a few trying to escape on ropes made of knotted bedsheets.


Below: Plaque in lobby, Intercontinental Kabul


As the attack progressed, IHG issued the following statement:

Following extensive media coverage, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) would like to confirm that the hotel Inter-continental in Kabul is not part of IHG and has not been since 1980. In light of this fact, we respectfully request that future reports, where possible, make this clear.  IHG, listed on the London Stock Exchange, is the world’s largest hotel company with 4,400 hotels in over 100 countries. 

Our thoughts at this time are with all of the people affected by this tragedy.

Suite room Intercontinental Kabul

Later IHG amended the statement, moving the sentence “Our thoughts at this time are with all of the people affected by this tragedy” to make it the second sentence, rather than an afterthought at the end.

In impoverished Kabul, the hilltop Intercontinental Kabul stands out – and standing out it not always a good thing. A recent TripAdvisor review of the property by an American proved eerily accurate. Two weeks ago, TripAdvisor user Azin D, from Sacramento California, gave the following rather ominous advice:

“The hotel is far from everything else so I would think in case of an emergency I would not want to be alone on top of a hill …stranded…alone… in Afghanistan. The rest of the hotels in the city are all on roads surrounded by other humans and stores and shopping and much safer as for blending in. This hotel does have a security alert and cars get checked before coming to hotel but still not worth it.”


Two days ago, the US Embassy in Kabul put out a warning that militants might be planning to target hotels in the city.

The gunmen, armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, attacked the hotel at Saturday dinner hour. To evade heavy security at the front of the hotel, they simply entered through a kitchen door, according to local news reports. Security had been let out to private contractors and it is suspected the gunmen may have had inside help.

“We are hiding in our rooms – I beg the security forces to rescue us as soon as possible before they reach and kill us,” one guest told the AFP news agency as the attack began. “I can hear gunfire from somewhere near the first floor.”

Intercontinental Kabul in quieter times

Hotel manager Ahmad Haris Nayab managed to escape unhurt. He reported bursts of gunfire on all sides. Fighting was still raging in the hotel hours afterwards as special forces shot it out with guerrillas, rescuing 150 people including 40 foreign guests. Survivors said afterwards the gunmen had singled out foreigners for execution.

The Intercontinental Hotel Kabul opened in 1969. Though not part of the InterContinental Hotels group since 1980, it retained the name. In 2011, the Taliban targeted it in an attack that killed 21 people.

DFAT’s advice for Australian travellers is simple: Do not visit Afghanistan.

DFAT’s latest advisory, issued on 15 December 2017, reminds travellers of “the extremely dangerous security situation and the very high threat of terrorist attack in Afghanistan. The level of our advice has not changed. Do not travel to Afghanistan.”

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Whoever was on the hotel sale team in 1980 is probably well retired. Which is just as well because they failed to insist that the hotel name be changed from Intercontinental as a condition of sale. Now we witness the fruit of their failure when the Intercontinental Brand is damaged by an event which bears no relationship whatsoever to them.

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