KABUL, Afghanistan — A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a Kabul restaurant filled with foreigners and affluent Afghans, while two gunmen snuck in through the back door and opened fire Friday in a dinnertime attack that killed 16 people, officials said. The fatalities included four U.N. personnel.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack against La Taverna du Liban, 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.
Security officials, speaking to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release the information, said the assault began with the suicide bomber detonating his explosives at the front door of the restaurant, located in an area housing several embassies, nongovernmental organizations and the homes and offices of Afghan officials. As chaos ensued, the two other attackers entered through the kitchen and began shooting. They were later killed by security guards, said Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi.
The Kabul police chief, Gen. Mohammad Zahir Zahir, said the 16 people killed were all inside the restaurant. He said foreigners and Afghans were among the dead. Officials said at least four other people were wounded.
Four United Nations personnel were among those killed, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said. The four were not identified.
Ban condemned the attack "in the strongest terms," U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.
The International Monetary Fund's representative in Afghanistan, Wabel Abdallah, was among those killed, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said in a statement. The 60-year-old from Lebanon was appointed to the position in 2008.
Britain's Foreign Office confirmed late Friday that a British national was among the dead.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States condemns "this despicable act of terrorism in the strongest possible terms." She said information about the attack was still coming in, but that all U.S. Embassy personnel were accounted for.
Deputy Afghan Interior Minister Ayoub Salangai said in a tweet that the dead included four women.