13 foreigners among 16 killed in Kabul restaurant bombing

Photo: 13 foreigners among 16 killed in Kabul restaurant bombing / Other News

Thirteen foreigners were among the 16 people killed in the suicide bombing by the Taliban of a restaurant in a part of Kabul that houses several diplomatic missions on Friday, police said, dpa reported.

"Thirteen foreigners and three Afghans were killed in today's suicide attack," Mohammad Zahir, Kabul police chief, said. Afghan authorities could not immediately confirm the nationalities, however.

Four of those killed were women, Afghan deputy interior minister said.

A UN official said four employees with the United Nations are "unaccounted for" following the attack, and International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde confirmed that the IMF's resident representative in Afghanistan was among the dead.

IMF employee Wabel Abdallah, 60, a Lebanese national, was killed, Lagarde said in a statement.

Ari Gaitanis, the spokesman for the UN in Afghanistan, told dpa the personnel "reportedly could have been present in close proximity to the scene of today's attack in Kabul," and they "remain unaccounted for."

In a statement, the UN condemned the attack, saying "UN personnel may be among the dead and is seeking to verify the status of all UN personnel."

One diplomat said two UNICEF personnel, one Pakistani and one American, were among the four UN employees killed. UN did not confirm.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had carried out the bombing in Wazir Akbar Khan at 7:30 pm (1500 GMT), which was followed by a gunbattle, with foreigners being the target.

The Lebanese restaurant, Taverna Du Liban, is popular among foreigners and wealthy locals and located a short distance from the Norwegian embassy.

The Lebanese owner of the restaurant was among those killed, according to the police chief.

The British embassy also said it was investigating reports that a British national was among the killed.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said, "Foreigners were present during the attack. According to preliminary details, German authorities were killed."

German officials in Kabul declined to comment.

Zahir said three attackers were killed.

"One suicide bomber blew himself up at the gate of the restaurant, opening way for two others to get inside the restaurant," he said.

"The two assailants then fought with the local guards and the police for two hours."

An American aid worker who left the restaurant 10 minutes before bombing told dpa she had seen a number of foreign and local officials among the 25-30 patrons.

Security forces cordoned off the streets near the scene of the blast, where body parts were strewn. The explosion gutted cars.

Police said the armed guards of some of the foreigners who were in the restaurant had prevented them from entering the restaurant in the immediate aftermath of the blast.

The bombing is the first in recent years of a Kabul restaurant popular with foreigners and the fourth attak in the city this month.

Over the last week, a suicide bombing killed two policemen, while a tribal elder survived an attempt on his life.

Last year, the Taliban launched a series of high profile attacks in Kabul, including targeting the presidential palace, the airport, the Supreme Court and the UN compound.

Afghan security forces have taken the role of fighting the Taliban as the NATO-led coalition military is withdrawing this year from the war-torn country.

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