Norwegian Foreign Minister staying at bombed hotel

The Norwegian foreign minister was in the Kabul hotel that suffered an attack by a Taliban suicide bomber on Monday in which eight people died.

Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre reportedly hid in the basement of the luxury hotel in the Afghan capital when militants stormed into the lobby and targeted foreigners. A Norwegian diplomat was seriously injured and is currently in intensive care at an international military hospital.

Four hotel guards, a US national, an Afghan guest and a Filipina spa director all died in the attack, as well as respected Norwegian journalist, Carsten Thomassen, from Dagbladet newspaper.

The five-star luxury Serena Hotel mainly serves wealthy foreigners and was opened to much acclaim two years ago as a high-security haven.

Norway maintains around 500 troops in the NATO-led international force in Afghanistan. Defence officials are reportedly planning to raise that number to more than 700 for a limited period of time in 2008.

The Islamist Taliban group has claimed responsibility for the attack.