The two Greek commercial airline pilots who were caught up in the terrorist attack in Kabul’s Intercontinental hotel described to protothema.gr how close they came to death during the terrorist attack by four gunmen which killed 14 foreigners at in Afghanistan’s capital on Saturday. “A terrorists entered the room and thankfully shot the adjoining bed”, one of them recalls. Michalis Poulikakos and Vassilis Vasileiou, who have been employed as pilots of an Airbus A320 for Kam Air in Afghanistan are safe but shaken after their ordeal. A report by BBC, citing a police source in Kabul had said that a Greek national was among the 14 foreigners killed, new which the Greek Finance Ministry denied in a bulletin it released late Sunday.
“It all started at about 9 pm, we were in the hotel restaurant and we were eating … Suddenly we hear shots from the side of the kitchen. Apparently, the terrorists entered the kitchen door in the interior of the hotel and killed Westerners. As soon as Vassilis and I heard the shots, we got up and ran to our rooms, considering it the best thing for our safety”, Michalis said, while remembering the initial harrowing moments of the attack. “I was heading to the 4th floor, while Vasilis to the 5th, where our rooms were, respectively. From the training we have done, they told us in such cases to hide either under the bed or in the bathtub. I went into the bathtub, but not many came to my floor. The first, the second, the third and the fifth floors, had the biggest problems, they even burnt the 1st and 2nd floor completely”, he said calmly, a few hours after the tragic incident.
Vassilis Vasileiou explains it is a miracle he is still alive. “I am still live by a miracle … I was with the terrorists for almost 13 hours. First, they killed the Westerners and then were laughing over the dead bodies. Once I went into my room, I locked myself. I opened the balcony door, lifted the bed upright and hid in it after slashing it with a knife. I got in and remained there for hours… I could hear voices, shots and knocks on doors all the time”, he said, tired after the ordeal he had experienced. “When they came to my room on the 5th floor, they broke the door with a sledgehammer and they entered. Fortunately, the electricity had been cut off so it was dark. They fired at the other bed with a few bursts, and then they started talking and laughing, they left and returned to my room. In fact, one of them, the shortest, probably their leader, was sitting next to the bed to rest and giving the others instructions… They were coming in and out of my room for 13 hours until the alliance security forces saved me. As soon as they had left the first time, I thought I could jump from the 5th floor or even escape the balconies…When I went out to the balcony, the friendly forces mistook me for a terrorist and started shooting me and a bullet by me. I immediately went back inside and hid in the mattress”, Vassilis remembers. He continued his story “After several hours, the terrorists set the room on fire…I was scared, but because they have trained us for such occasions, I cut my shirt and put cloth up my nostrils, while using the rest of the shirt to cover my mouth, breathing only from the mouth. Luckily, the balcony door miraculously shut by the wind cutting off any more oxygen in the room that could fuel the fire. Seeing the fire, the friendly forces released water under pressure and extinguished it, soaking as well, where I lay wet at -2 degrees Celsius, suffering hypothermia … Fortunately, at 12 noon today (yesterday) the friendly forces managed to control the area and when I heard them speaking English, I revealed myself- the security men were stunned”, he told protothema.gr exclusively.