KABUL - Elite Afghan police backed by Nato forces ended a 12-hour siege on Friday at a popular hotel outside Kabul, leaving at least 23 dead after Taliban gunmen stormed the lakeside building, bursting into a party and seizing dozens of hostages.The night-time assault on the hotel with rocket-propelled grenades, suicide vests and machine guns again proved how potent the insurgency remains after a decade of war.Terrified guests jumped into the lake in the darkness to escape the carnage, Afghan officials and residents said. Up to 300 people had been inside the hotel when the attack began.Afghan interior ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said 12 to 15 civilians, two hotel guards and a policeman were killed in the gunbattle at the Spozhmai hotel, overlooking Qargha Lake. Five attackers were also killed.The attack, quickly claimed by the Afghan Taliban, again showed the ability of insurgents to stage high-profile raids even as Nato nations prepare to withdraw most of their combat troops by the end of 2014 and leave Afghans to lead the fight. Meanwhile, the US commander of Nato troops in Afghanistan on Friday accused the Haqqani network of orchestrating the lakeside hotel attack in Kabul.“Afghan national security forces and coalition military sources acknowledge that this attack bears the signature of the Haqqani network, which continues to target and kill innocent Afghans and blatantly violate Afghan sovereignty from the safety of Pakistan,” Allen said.Nato’s ISAF confirmed that its troops and Afghan security forces had responded to the assault. But Allen emphasised the role played by Afghan forces, seeking to downplay concerns about the ability of the local police and army to manage after Nato combat troops withdraw in 2014.Allen said he had been ‘extremely impressed’ with the Afghan response.“There should be little doubt about their ability and capability to protect the Afghan people in the years ahead,” he said.He condemned the “unspeakably brutal attack” on civilians and paid tribute to the security guards and law enforcement officers who died in order to protect women and children.The Taliban, who are leading a bloody insurgency against Karzai’s Western-backed government, told AFP that the hotel was attacked because of “wild parties, drinking and prostitution” every Thursday.Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid accused foreign diplomats, and members of the US-led Nato mission and the Kabul government of attending the hotel’s Thursday gatherings.Qargha Lake lies around 10 kilometres from central Kabul and its pleasant weather and greenery make it a popular picnic spot for daytrippers from the capital. The lake is surrounded by hotels, restaurants and wedding halls.Nato intends to withdraw its 130,000 combat troops by the end of 2014, exiting the costly war that has killed tens of thousands of Afghan civilians and more than 3,050 foreign soldiers.President Hamid Karzai warned Thursday that attacks on Afghan police and soldiers were increasing, saying that 20 to 25 personnel were being killed every day.On Wednesday, a suicide bomber attacked a joint Afghan-Nato patrol in the eastern city of Khost, close to the Pakistan border, killing 21 people including three US soldiers.Hotels, guest houses, government buildings, embassies and military bases in Kabul have been a frequent target of commando-style insurgent attacks. In April, militants launched coordinated attacks on government offices, embassies and foreign bases in Kabul in the biggest assault on the Afghan capital in 10 years of war.