Two Americans among 21 killed as Taliban targets popular Kabul restaurant



KABUL, Afghanistan – The Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack on a popular Lebanese restaurant in Kabul on Friday that killed at least 21 people, including two Americans and 11 other foreigners.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul confirmed early Saturday that Americans were among the dead.

International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said in a statement that Wabel Abdallah, 60, the fund’s resident representative in Afghanistan, was also killed.

A United Nations spokesperson said three U.N. employees were killed in the attack, "along with a number of those from other international organizations."

Sediq Seddiqi, the spokesman for Afghanistan's Ministry of Interior, told NBC News on Saturday that the death toll included 13 foreigners and eight Afghans. The foreigners include Germans, Canadians, Russians and Lebanese. He said they included diplomats, but he would not give any further details.

In Berlin, the German foreign ministry said it could not confirm that Germans were involved.

There were conflicting accounts of the attack, but Reuters and The Associated Press quoted unnamed security officials as saying one attacker detonated a bomb and two others then fired on restaurant customers and employees. The other two were killed by security guards, according to the reports.backyardo

The restaurant is in the Wazir Akbar Khan district, which houses many foreign embassies and restaurants that cater to expatriates.

In a statement taking responsibility for the attack, the Taliban said that those killed were German nationals.

“This evening around 7 p.m. in Kabul, [Wazir Akbar Khan] district, we attacked one of the restaurants with a suicide attack where foreign invaders were having their dinner,” the Taliban statement said.

“In this attack we have used very heavy explosives which caused heavy losses to the enemy. According to our initial information, which we received, in this attack we attacked senior officials from the German military and government.”

The Taliban often exaggerates death tolls and embellishes other details in the wake of attacks.

On Saturday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid issued a statement saying that the attack was in response to a recent NATO airstrike in Parwan that caused civilian casualties.

The awful attack in Afghanistan Friday is being called a massacre.

The U.S. State Department confirmed that all staff at the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan have been accounted for since the attack. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki also condemned the attack and called it a "despicable act of terrorism."

The attack came at a difficult moment for Afghanistan as most foreign forces prepare to leave the country this year after more than a decade of war and almost daily attacks.

Security remains a major concern as Afghanistan and the United States struggle to agree on a key bilateral security pact, raising the prospect that Washington may yet pull out all of its troops this year unless differences are ironed out.

By Jamieson Lesko, source

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