Deadly Taliban Attack in Kabul Targets Foreigners

Thirteen of the 21 dead in the attack on a popular restaurant were foreigners, including the head of the IMF in Afghanistan.

The death toll in a Taliban attack on a Kabul restaurant popular with foreigners and affluent Afghans has risen to 21, the deadliest violence against foreign civilians in the country since the start of the war nearly 13 years ago, Afghan police said on Saturday.

The victims included 13 foreigners, among them the head of the International Monetary Fund in Afghanistan and three United Nations staff, and eight Afghans.

The three attackers, including a suicide bomber and two gunmen, were also killed during Friday's assault on the Lebanese restaurant. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

"Such targeted attacks against civilians are completely unacceptable and are in flagrant breach of international humanitarian law," U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq said. "They must stop immediately."

The attack began with a blast around 7.30 p.m., at a Lebanese restaurant in the capital's central Wazir Akbar Khan district, which hosts many embassies and restaurants catering to expatriates. After the explosion, two gunmen stormed into the restaurant and started shooting at diners, security sources said.

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

IMF representative Wabel Abdallah, a 60-year-old Lebanese national, was killed in the explosion, the IMF said. He had been leading the Fund's office in Kabul since 2008.

At least two U.S. civilians, one Danish citizen with the European Police and a British national were confirmed to be among the dead. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said two Canadians died in the attack but it was not clear if this figure was in addition to the deaths reported by the IMF and United Nations.