Multiple suicide attacks kill 14 in restaurant

 18 Jan 2014 - 0:00


Afghan police arrive at the scene of the blasts in Kabul yesterday.


KABUL: At least 14 people were killed, including foreigners, in a multiple Taliban suicide attacks on a popular Lebanese restaurant in Kabul yesterday evening, officials said, with two gunmen launching an “indiscriminate” killing spree inside the venue.

The attack on the Taverna du Liban in the upmarket Wazir Akbar Khan neighbourhood was claimed by the Taliban fighting against the Afghan government and US-led foreign forces in the country. The district hosts many embassies and restaurants catering for expatriates.
“There were three attackers. All have been killed. Unfortunately, 14 people have also been killed, including some foreigners,” city police chief Mohammad Zahir told reporters. He said the nationalities of the foreign casualties were not immediately clear.
Deputy Interior Minister Mohammad Ayoub Salangi said two of the attackers forced their way into the busy restaurant.
“One suicide attacker detonated himself outside the restaurant and two others got inside indiscriminately killing people,” he said.
A Taliban spokesman said those killed were Germans. In Berlin, the foreign ministry said it could not confirm that Germans were involved.
The assault was carried out around dinner time in the heavily fortified district where many wealthy Afghans also live. Bursts of gunfire followed the attack.
“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.
Some officials suggested militants were still inside the venue but no gunfire could be heard more than an hour after the attack and it was unclear if any customers were still inside.
Hashmat Stanekzai, a spokesman for Kabul police, said an operation to clear the building was under way.
“The clearance operation is still ongoing. Our security forces are not inside the restaurant yet,” he said. “There might be some insurgents inside so we have to act carefully to avoid possible casualties.”
The attack came at a tough time for Afghanistan as most foreign forces prepare to leave this year after more than a decade of war and almost daily attacks.
Security concerns have been rising ahead of an April presidential election when Afghans will vote to choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai, an event likely to be targeted by the Taliban.
Gunfire continued for about 20 minutes after the initial blast and the main road leading to the area was cordoned off. 
Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi said three suicide bombers approached the building, one of whom detonated his bomb whereas the other two were shot by security forces.
Security remains a major concern as Afghanistan and the US struggle to agree on a security pact, raising the prospect that Washington may pull out all its troops this year unless differences are ironed out. Agencies