The Taliban yesterday killed up to 21 people, including 13 foreigners, in a suicide bomb and small arms attack on a Kabul restaurant frequented by expatriates.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Cathleen Snow, a spokeswoman for the U.S./NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) told Breitbart News that there were no ISAF personnel killed in the attack.
ISAF’s presence in Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital, includes civilians from the U.S. and other NATO nations. A Taliban car bomb detonated near an ISAF civilian residential compound in Kabul last October.
Jen Psaki, a State Department spokeswoman, said all U.S. Embassy personnel were safe and that the U.S. condemns “this despicable act of terrorism in the strongest possible terms.”
The U.N. Afghanistan Mission reported that four of its members were killed but did not reveal their identities or nationalities.
Early on Jan. 18, ISAF issued a statement strongly condemning the attack.
“I express my deepest sympathies to the victims and families of those wounded and killed in last night’s brutal and senseless attack,” said Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., the top commander of all U.S./NATO forces. “Once again the Taliban have demonstrated their complete disregard for human life and shown their intent for the future of Afghanistan. The Taliban must stop premeditated and indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, especially on those who are working to bring stability and prosperity to the Afghan people.”
Initial media reports suggested that 16 people were killed. However, various news outlets are now reporting that up to 21 people were killed, including 13 foreigners.
The International Monetary Fund representative Wabel Abdallah, a Lebanese national, and civilians from Afghanistan, Europe, Britain, Canada, and Russia were among the dead, according to Reuters.
Four women were reportedly killed in the incident, which is one of the deadliest Taliban attacks against foreign civilians in the Afghanistan war.
ISAF reported that “among the casualties were Afghan citizens and civilian representatives of international organizations committed to bringing economic and humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.”
The attack started when a Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up near the entrance of the Lebanese restaurant La Taverna du Liban in Kabul, followed by two gunmen bursting in to spray patrons with bullets, security sources told Reuters.
The Taliban claimed to be behind the attack, which is “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,” reported The Associated Press.
“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,” it added.
The restaurant is located in Kabul’s Wazir Akbar Khan district, home to numerous embassies and restaurants that are popular among expatriates.
“Such targeted attacks against civilians are completely unacceptable and are in flagrant breach of international humanitarian law,” said U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq. “They must stop immediately.”
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.