Taliban attack against Afghan restaurant kills 16
By AMIR SHAH and PATRICK QUINN (AP)
January 18, 2014, 2:52 pm TWN
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a Kabul restaurant filled with foreigners and affluent Afghans, while two gunmen snuck in through the back door and opened fire Friday in a brazen dinnertime attack that killed 16 people, officials said. The fatalities included four U.N. personnel.
The Taliban claimed responsibility within an hour of the attack against La Taverna du Liban, part of a stepped-up campaign of violence against foreign and government interests to send a message that the militants are not going anywhere as the U.S.-led coalition winds down its combat mission at the end of the year. The bombing served as a reminder that although militant violence in the capital has dropped off in recent months, insurgents remain capable of carrying out attacks inside the most heavily guarded areas.
Security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information, said the assault began with the suicide bomber detonating his explosives at the front door of the restaurant, located in an area housing several embassies, non-governmental organizations and the homes and offices of Afghan officials. As chaos ensued, the two other attackers entered through the kitchen and began shooting. They were later killed by security guards, said Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi.
Kabul police chief Gen. Mohammad Zahir Zahir said the 16 people killed were all inside the restaurant. He said foreigners and Afghans were among the dead, but he did not provide a breakdown. Officials said at least four other people were wounded.
Four United Nations personnel were among those killed, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. The four were not identified.
Ban condemned the attack "in the strongest terms," saying "such targeted attacks against civilians are completely unacceptable and are in flagrant breach of international humanitarian law," U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.
The International Monetary Fund's representative in Afghanistan, Wabel Abdallah, also was among those killed, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said in a statement. The 60-year-old from Lebanon was appointed to the position in 2008.
Britain's Foreign Office confirmed late Friday that a British national was among the dead.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. condemns "this despicable act of terrorism in the strongest possible terms." She said information about the attack was still coming in, but that all U.S. Embassy personnel were accounted for.
Deputy Afghan Interior Minister Ayoub Salangai said in a tweet that the dead included four women.