Suicide bomb attack on Kabul restaurant 'kills 14'

An interior ministry spokesperson describes the scene

At least 14 people have been killed in a suicide bomb and gun attack on a restaurant popular with foreigners in the Afghan capital, officials say.

Foreigners, including an IMF representative from Lebanon and a Briton, were also among those killed in Kabul's Wazir Akbar Khan neighbourhood.

The area is home to a number of foreign embassies and organisations - the UN said four of its staff were missing.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack on the Taverna du Liban.

The restaurant is popular with foreign nationals, diplomats and aid workers, and was busy with diners at the time of the attack.

A suicide attacker detonated his explosives outside the gate of the heavily-fortified restaurant, Deputy Interior Minister Mohammad Ayoub Salangi said.

Two gunmen then entered the restaurant and started "indiscriminately killing" people inside.

Mr Salangi said four women were among the dead.

The UK Foreign Office (FCO) confirmed that a British national was among those killed in the incident and that it was ready to provide consular assistance to the person's family.

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde later said Wabel Abdallah - the head of the fund's Afghanistan office - was among those who died.

"This is tragic news, and we at the fund are all devastated," Ms Lagarde said in a statement.

Abdul Majid, a chef at the restaurant, told AFP news agency that he was sitting with his friends "in the kitchen when an explosion happened and smoke filled the kitchen".

"A man came inside shouting and he started shooting. One of my colleagues was shot and fell down. I ran to the roof and threw myself to the neighbouring property."

Taliban claim

The well-known owner of the restaurant was also among those killed.

The attackers were eventually shot dead by the security forces when they arrived at the scene.

Chef  Abdul Majid on a stretcher in Kabul (17 Jan 2014) The restaurant's chef, Abdul Majid, was among those injured

The BBC's Mahfouz Zubaide heard the blast and gunfire from at least two kilometres away. He said the gunfire went on sporadically for about 10 minutes.

Several hours later, UN officials in Kabul said four of its personnel, who may have been in the area at the time, were still unaccounted for.

"The UN is making efforts to clarify the status of its personnel," spokesman Ari Gaitanis told AFP.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it had been deliberately targeting foreign officials.

Security continues to be a major concern in Afghanistan. The last remaining contingent of Nato-led forces is due to leave by the end of the year, having handed over security to Afghan forces.

Washington is pushing Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign an agreement which would allow some US troops to stay behind after this year's withdrawal.

The Taliban told the BBC's John Simpson earlier this week that it was now back in control of large areas of Afghanistan and was confident of returning to power after Western troops left.

Our correspondent says it is hard to believe the Taliban could make a comeback as things stand, but their takeover of Kabul in 1996 was unexpected, and they could be strengthened if a weak, corrupt president is elected in April.

Map

More on This Story

More Asia stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.