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Asia-pacific

UN, IMF staff among those killed in Kabul blast

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-01-18

At least 21 people were killed in a coordinated attack on a Lebanese restaurant in central Kabul on Friday, including the International Monetary Fund's representative in Afghanistan and four UN staff members.

Kabul police say 21 people were killed when a suicide bomber detonated at the restaurant's entrance followed by at least one gunman who sprayed the restaurant with bullets, police said.

"This morning we have checked again and our latest figure is 21 killed, including 13 foreigners and eight Afghans. Five women were among the dead and about five people were injured," Kabul police chief Mohammad Zahir told AFP.

The US embassy confirmed that two American citizens were among those killed.

An Afghan security source described the attack, confirming that at least two attackers were involved.

“First there was a suicide attack near a restaurant for foreigners, where a man detonated his explosives attached to his body, and then possibly one or two insurgents entered the restaurant,” one Afghan security source said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi said that there were three attackers, one of whom was killed when he detonated his bomb, while the other two were shot by security forces.

The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) representative in Afghanistan and four United Nations staff were among the dead, which included at least 13 foreign nationals, police said.

Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for the attack on the Taverna du Liban restaurant in Kabul’s Wazir Akbar Khan district, which is popular with Afghan officials, foreign diplomats, aid workers and business people.

The assault was carried out around dinner time in the heavily fortified district, which is home to a wealthy Afghan community and many embassies.

'I went to the roof'

One of the attack's survivors, who worked as a cook at the restaurant, said he ran from the gunmen after hearing the explosion outside.

“I went to the roof and stayed with my back to the chimney for two or three hours," Suleiman said. "Later, Afghan police came and took me out.”

A clearance operation continued for several hours after the attack as until midnight police were still unsure whether more bombers might be lurking in the dark, dusty streets.

"Such targeted attacks against civilians are completely unacceptable and are in flagrant breach of international humanitarian law," said a spokesman for UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

The attack comes at a tough time for Afghanistan, as most foreign forces prepare to leave the country by then end of this year after more than a decade of war.

Security concerns are also high ahead of the country’s presidential election in April, when Afghans will choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)

 

Date created : 2014-01-17

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