Gunmen burst into the restaurant spraying diners with bullets
after the bomber blew himself up near the entrance around 7.30 p.m..
Thirteen foreigners were among those killed, according to police. On
Saturday, the U.S. embassy said in a post on Twitter that at least
two U.S. private citizens were killed, while Britain and Canada also
confirmed they had each lost two nationals.
Sporadic bursts of gunfire continued for about an hour after the
initial blast, and the two gunmen inside the Lebanese restaurant
were shot dead by police, an Afghan official said.
Most foreign forces are preparing to leave Afghanistan this year
after more than a decade of war, and there are fears that the
Taliban will intensify attacks in the run up to an election in
April, when Afghans will choose a successor to President Hamid
Karzai is still deliberating whether to allow some U.S. troops to
stay on, but if no agreement is reached, Afghan forces could be left
to fight the insurgents on their own.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for Friday's attack, calling it
revenge for a U.S. airstrike earlier this week that had also drawn
condemnation from Karzai as eight civilians were killed.
Shots could be heard ringing across the capital's diplomatic
district for minutes after the first blast.
Several kitchen staff survived by fleeing to the roof, where they
hid until they were rescued by police.
"When I was in the kitchen, I heard an explosion outside. Then all
the guys escaped up and I went to the roof and stayed with my back
to the chimney for two or three hours," said Suleiman, a cook at the
By midnight, a clearance operation was still underway, with police
nervously flashing lasers at passing cars and people on the dark,
The restaurant had been running for several years, and was a
favorite haunt for foreigners, including diplomats, contractors,
journalists and aid workers.
A couple of armed guards were usually on duty at the front entrance,
which led to a courtyard in front of the main ground floor dining
The suicide bomb attack took place at the front entrance, but
accounts differed over where the gunmen had entered from.
"The target of the attack was a restaurant frequented by high
ranking foreigners... where the invaders used to dine with booze and
liquor in the plenty," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in
an e-mailed statement, written in English.
The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) representative in
Afghanistan, 60-year-old Lebanese national Wabel Abdallah, was one
of the diners killed. He had been leading the Fund's office in Kabul
[to top of second column]
"This is tragic news, and we at the Fund are all devastated,"
Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in a statement. "Our hearts
go out to Wabel's family and friends, as well as the other victims
of this attack."
The United Nations said four staff members had been killed, but did
not release their nationalities.
"You can imagine the effect it has had on staff members here," U.N.
spokesman Ari Gaitanis told Reuters.
The EU Police Mission in Afghanistan also lost one Danish and one
British member of staff. A British Foreign Office spokeswoman said
two Britons were killed in the attack.
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said two Canadians
died, but it was unclear which organization they worked for.
While the U.S. embassy Twitter post specified the dead Americans
were private citizens, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said
none of the dead included embassy staff.
Foreign casualties were taken to a military base in Kabul. At a
hospital morgue near the attack, Afghans screamed and cried as they
mourned attack victims, some pressing scarves to their faces to
stifle sobs. One young man, grieving for his dead father, kicked a
wall and howled.
"One of the restaurant's cooks was injured," said a doctor, Abdul
Bashir. "Two dead bodies have been taken to the morgue."
While the south and south east of Afghanistan have been the main
theatres of action in a war that has dragged on for more than a
decade, Kabul has suffered regular attacks.
Taliban fighters mounted several attacks in the capital during the
summer months last year, but the assault on Friday inflicted far
With attacks still happening daily, Afghanistan and the United
States are struggling to agree on a bilateral security pact, raising
the prospect that Washington may yet pull out all of its troops this
year unless differences are ironed out.
(Writing by Maria Golovnina; additional reporting by Erik Kirschbaum
in Berlin; Louis Charbonneau in New York; and Anna Yukhananov and
Lesley Wroughton in Washington; editing by Gareth Jones, Amanda
Kwan, Lisa Shumaker, Clarence Fernandez and Simon Cameron-Moore)
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