"Definitely civilians are stuck in the hotel's garden, but we can't say if they are hostages or just caught in the ongoing situation," said Salangi. "We did not take any action in the dark because of the risk to civilians, but now we have begun our attack and killed one attacker, and injured another."
There was no immediate indication of any NATO casualties, said Wojack.
The attack comes after several days of high-profile strikes aimed at allied troops and Afghan security forces, including bombings in two restive provinces in the country's east that killed at least 29 people, including three American soldiers, on Wednesday. It also comes nearly a year after an insurgent assault on Kabul's Hotel Inter-Continental, which left the nine attackers and 12 others dead.
In an e-mail, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said the targets were Westerners. He said the attackers were armed with suicide vests, rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns.
"Every night people come here for different types of debauchery, but on Thursday night, the number increases, including foreigners who come here and they hold anti-Islamic ceremonies," said Mujahid. "Tonight, according to our information, a number of ISAF and embassy diplomats from foreign countries have been invited by some senior Kabul administration officials and are now under attack."
He said the Taliban were fighting government forces outside the hotel and had killed tens of government officials and foreigners, but the insurgents regularly inflate casualty figures.
Intellpuke: The Associated Press is reporting that the Taliban are claiming credit for the attack on the hotel.
You can read this article by CNN correspondent Nick Paton Walsh, reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan, in context here: edition.cnn.com/2012/06/21/world/asia/afghanistan-violence/index.html?hpt=hp_t2