Rocket hits outside luxury hotel in Afghan capital

AP News
Posted: Nov 21, 2009 11:09 AM

A rocket hit outside the luxury Serena Hotel in Afghanistan's capital late Saturday, wounding two people, the Interior Ministry said.

The heavily guarded Serena regularly houses visiting diplomats, officials and international workers. It has been the target of attacks before, most recently in late October when a rocket slammed into a courtyard.

In Saturday's attack, a rocket hit low on the outside of a compound wall that rings the hotel, just behind a guardhouse, according to an Associated Press reporter who saw the impact spot. Rubble surrounded the area, but there was no large crater.

Dozens of police and army officers worked to secure the site.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

The rocket wounded two people, Interior Ministry spokesman Zemeri Bashary said. He did not say how serious their injuries were.

Janagha Duragat, a shopkeeper who was waiting outside the hotel to load his merchandise into a car, said he saw the rocket strike the wall. He said it appeared to have been fired from a nearby footbridge.

Duragat said he saw at least one policeman wounded in the attack.

In January 2008, militants wearing suicide vests stormed the hotel in a coordinated assault, killing seven people _ a strike that demonstrated how militants could launch deadly attacks on even high-security targets in the capital.

No one was hurt in the October rocket attack.

President Hamid Karzai, struggling despite foreign military help to combat a growing Taliban insurgency, was sworn in for his second five-year term on Thursday in the presidential palace, about 500 meters (yards) away from the Serena.

Parts of central Kabul were blocked off during the inauguration as part of increased security measures amid fears there would be an attack by insurgents. But the day passed off without any attack in the city center.