21 confirmed dead in Afghan restaurant attack

Saturday 18 January 2014 21.59
The long-established Taverna has been a regular dining spot for foreign diplomats, consultants, aid workers and Afghans, and was busy with customers yesterday, the weekly holiday in Afghanistan
The long-established Taverna has been a regular dining spot for foreign diplomats, consultants, aid workers and Afghans, and was busy with customers yesterday, the weekly holiday in Afghanistan

A total of 21 people, including 13 foreigners, have been confirmed dead after a Taliban suicide assault on a popular restaurant in Kabul.

Police said two British citizens and two Canadians were among the dead.

A senior International Monetary Fund (IMF) representative from Lebanon was also killed, as well as four United Nations’ staff.

"Our latest figure is 21 killed, including 13 foreigners and eight Afghans," Kabul police chief Mohammad Zahir said.

"Five women were among the dead and about five people were injured."

The long-established Taverna has been a regular dining spot for foreign diplomats, consultants, aid workers and Afghans, and was busy with customers yesterday, the weekly holiday in Afghanistan.

Like many restaurants in Kabul, it ran strict security checks with diners patted down by armed guards and passing through at least two steel doors before gaining entry.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the massacre  saying that "such targeted attacks against civilians are completely unacceptable and are in flagrant breach of international humanitarian law".

The assault was quickly claimed by Taliban militants fighting against the Afghan government and US-led foreign forces in the country.

A militant spokesman said the attack was to avenge a US airstrike in Parwan province on Tuesday night that Afghan President Hamid Karzai said killed seven children and one woman.

"These invading forces have launched a brutal bombardment on civilians... and they have martyred and wounded 30 civilians. This was a revenge attack and we did it well, and we will continue to do so," Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement.

The insurgents regularly make exaggerated and incorrect claims about death tolls after attacks.

Elite security commandos rushed to seal off the small streets around the restaurant as sporadic gunfire erupted for a short time after the blast.

"We condemn, of course, the despicable act of terrorism in the strongest possible terms," US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in Washington.

Afghanistan's intelligence agency has said it foiled several plots in the capital involving truck bombs and suicide gunmen over the past year.

NATO forces are withdrawing from Afghanistan after more than a decade of fighting the Taliban, but negotiations have stalled on a security accord that would allow some US and NATO troops to stay after 2014.

Keywords: kabul