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Afghan, NATO forces fight back after Taliban gunmen take hostages at lakeside hotel

Smoke rises from the Spozhmai Hotel following an attack by Taliban militants on June 22, 2012.
Smoke rises from the Spozhmai Hotel following an attack by Taliban militants on June 22, 2012.Massoud Hossaini / AFP - Getty Images
Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers take positions on a hill near the Spozhmai Hotel following an attack by Taliban militants at Qargha lake on the outskirts of Kabul on June 22, 2012.Massoud Hossaini / AFP - Getty Images

Smoke rises from the hotel as NATO helicopters fly over the site of an attack on June 22, 2012.Omar Sobhani / Reuters

By Cheryll Simpson, NBC News in Kabul and Reuters — Guests swam for their lives after Taliban gunmen attacked a lakeside hotel in Afghanistan, killing at least nine people and taking 50 others hostage in a siege lasting several hours, according to reports.

At least five militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and heavy machine guns attacked the exclusive Spozhmai hotel in the Qargha Lake recreation area around midnight local time on Thursday (3:30 p.m. ET) bursting into a private party and shooting dead hotel workers. Read the full story.

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Smoke rises from the Spozhmai Hotel following an attack by Taliban militants on June 22, 2012.Massoud Hossaini / AFP - Getty Images

ANA soldiers run for cover during the hotel attack on June 22, 2012.Omar Sobhani / Reuters

More than ten years after the beginning of the war, Afghanistan faces external pressure to reform as well as ongoing internal conflicts.Ahmad Jamshid / AP