Scores of people were killed when Kabul’s Hotel Inter-Continental came under an organised attack by eight suicide bombers yesterday.

Officials said at least ten other people were killed, along with the suicide bombers themselves in the brazen attack. Two police officers were also among the dead.

NATO helicopters were called in for backup and subsequently killed three militants, bringing to an end a five-hour siege by the suicide bombers/gunmen.

"As a result of Afghan National Police, Afghan National Army and Coalition force's fast reaction and by air support of the NATO forces, eight suicide bombers were killed," the ministry said in a statement.

Officials say that casualty figures are expected to rise as the hotel is searched.

The siege began at around 10pm on Tuesday night when the insurgents stormed the building and began shooting.

In an email Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said suicide bombers had entered the heavily fortified hotel after killing security  guards.“One of the suicide attackers told us on the phone that they are in the lobby and chasing guests into their rooms by smashing the doors,”

One of the insurgents reportedly blew themselves up on the second floor causing widespread panic.

The hotel which is popular with western visitors was due to hold a conference today to discuss the upcoming transition of security from international to Afghan forces, announced by President Barack Obama last week.

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