KABUL | Armed with an AK-47, an American contract worker said Wednesday he held off militants attacking a guest house in Kabul, allowing about two dozen U.N. election workers to escape.
John Christopher "Chris" Turner, a trucker from Kansas City, described opening fire at the assailants as the guests he was protecting huddled in a laundry room at the back of the building.
"I am armed. I carry an AK-47 and I kept firing it to keep the attackers away from the group I was guarding," he said, describing how he shot from the entrance of the laundry room. The group later jumped over a back wall to take refuge in a house behind the guest house, he said.
About 40 people were staying at the Bakhtar guest house in the heart of the Afghan capital during the dawn attack. The Taliban have claimed responsibility.
The gunmen in police uniforms killed 11 people, including five U.N. staff. Three of the attackers also died.
Turner called his father in suburban Kansas City after the attack, 82-year-old Lionel Turner told The Associated Press.
"He said he was burned a little, but that he wasn't hurt," the father said. "He's got more guts than a Missouri mule."
Turner returned to the guest house hours after the attack to collect his personal belongings. He emerged from the fire-gutted, three-story building with a black chest packed with clothes and other personal belongings. He told reporters that he was a trucking contractor hired by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Flushed and with black stains on his hands and face, Turner said the attackers appeared well organized and were able to penetrate the building, located on a residential street.
Two men jumped out of the guest house and broke their legs and a fire engulfed much of the building during a two-hour gunbattle between the assailants and Afghan policemen, Turner said.
"There was so much smoke, two women were completely overwhelmed," he said.
Turner said he ran upstairs knocking at doors to rouse the residents and that he and the 25 with him locked themselves in the laundry room before they thought it was safe enough to jump the back wall.
Miles Robertson, an Australian working as an election adviser, said he and his wife put wet towels over their faces and fled when the room next door caught fire.
"We realized that there was no way for us to go out under the stairs or any way for us to come outside," said Robertson, a lanky middle-aged man wearing a dingy sweat shirt who spoke breathlessly. "I opened the window and stepped out to the landing out front, and had a volley of shots fired at me."
Most of the guests at the house were U.N election workers, and Turner believed that's why they were targeted.
"This is all about the election," he said.
Turner said he was satisfied with the security measures in place at the guest house, which has no outside sign and three U.N. guards assigned to it. However, the house did not appear to be as heavily fortified as similar facilities or homes elsewhere in the city.
Lionel Turner said his son "has always been an adventurer" and first went to Afghanistan decades ago to make a documentary about drugs that he recently finished, called "A Life In Hashistan."
In a trailer of the movie on YouTube, Chris Turner claims he met Osama bin Laden in 1984 and describes him as a "very elegant, tall Saudi man who spoke fluent English." In the same trailer, his son is shown saying he doesn't know which of his father's stories to believe.
Chris Turner has been back and forth between the States and Afghanistan several times, his father said.
"He fought with the Afghans against the Russians," Lionel Turner said. "He wears a beard, speaks the language and wears a turban."