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Rocket is fired at Afghan hotel housing foreign humanitarian workers

The rocket lands near the perimeter wall of the Serena Hotel, injuring two people.

November 22, 2009|By Laura King
  • Afghan police and soldiers secure the area near the Serena Hotel in Kabul.
Afghan police and soldiers secure the area near the Serena Hotel in Kabul. (Anja Niedringhaus / Associated…)

Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan — Suspected insurgents fired a rocket Saturday at a luxury hotel that had previously come under attack, injuring two people and rekindling fears that foreigners are being targeted in the capital.

The projectile hit just outside the perimeter wall of the hotel, where a number of foreign humanitarian workers, forced to relocate after a deadly strike on a U.N. guesthouse last month, have been staying.

The Serena, Afghanistan's only five-star hotel, was the scene of a major attack in January 2008, when it was stormed by gunmen and suicide bombers in a coordinated assault that killed seven people.

Security was tightened after that strike, and the hotel now resembles a fortress. With a night's stay costing more than most Afghans earn in a month, the clientele is nearly all foreign.

Police officers and soldiers cordoned off the area after the early-evening attack, which left a small pile of rubble near the perimeter wall. Witnesses said one of the injured was a policeman and the other appeared to be a civilian.

Insurgents have been lobbing rockets into the capital with increasing frequency. The poorly aimed projectiles, usually fired from the city's outskirts, rarely cause serious damage or injuries, but do generate a sense of unease.

The Serena was also hit by a rocket Oct. 28, the same day of the attack on the U.N. guesthouse. Eight people, including five U.N. workers, died in the guesthouse siege, which prompted the United Nations to move hundreds of workers to other parts of Afghanistan or out of the country. A number of humanitarian groups followed suit.

laura.king@latimes.com

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