KABUL - It was a bold attack that turned into a five-hour running battle on the grounds of one of Kabul's best known hotels.
The Taliban insurgents came prepared with suicide vests and rocket propelled grenades. In the end it took a coalition helicopter to blast the last holdouts off the roof just before dawn.
To attack the hotel, insurgents needed to get through three layers of security starting at one checkpoint, CBS News correspondent Mandy Clark reports. The raid came ahead of meetings Wednesday to discuss the handover of power from foreign troops to Afghan forces, underscoring how precarious the security situation still is here.
In the end the hotel's security wasn't enough to keep determined suicide bombers out.
Seventeen-year-old Ahmad Tamim, who said he saw the attackers, described scenes of chaos and terror.
"They were wearing police uniforms and they were firing in every direction," he says.
There has been a recent pattern of Afghan security forces switching sides. Tonight an Afghan official told CBS News they are investigating whether any police helped the attackers but so far have no evidence the gunmen were officers.
Muhammadullah Orsaji is the governor of Tarhar Province. He was at the hotel having dinner with a judge when the Taliban burst in. He made it to safety. His friend didn't.
"What was going through your mind when you saw your friend was shot?" Clark asked him.
"I was calling out to him to turn off his phone which was ringing and then I saw he was in a pool of blood," he said.
In a statement today the Taliban said they were targeting government officials whom they called puppets and they said that staging the attack just before a crucial security meeting proved they can strike where and when they want.