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KABUL - An American contract worker said Wednesday that he held off militants attacking a guest house in Kabul, allowing about two dozen U.N. election workers to escape.

John Christopher "Chris" Turner of Kansas City, Mo., described opening fire with an AK-47 at the assailants as the guests he was protecting huddled in a laundry room.

"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, he said.

Turner said that 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.

He told reporters that he was a trucking contractor hired by the U.S. Department of Defense.

It was not possible to reach others who had been at the guest house to verify Turner's account. They were being evacuated to Dubai for counseling, the U.N. said. Turner did not have a weapon when he spoke with a reporter.

Turner, 62, called his father in suburban Kansas City after the attack, 82-year-old Lionel Turner said. "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."

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.