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Home / News / World /  IMF’s Afghan chief, UN workers among 21 killed in Kabul bombing

Kabul: The International Monetary Fund’s senior official in Afghanistan and four United Nations workers were among 21 people killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up near a Lebanese restaurant in Kabul.

The La Taverna du Liban targeted on Friday’s attack in the Afghan capital was popular with foreign nationals, Afghan officials and business people, the city’s police chief Mohammad Zahir Zahir said in a phone interview. The toll included 13 foreigners and eight Afghans, he said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in an e-mailed statement that it targeted Germans and other foreign nationals dining in the restaurant.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack in the strongest terms, according to a statement released by the world body confirming the four deaths. Targeted attacks against civilians are completely unacceptable and are in flagrant breach of international humanitarian law, according to the UN statement.

The attack happened around 7:25 pm in the Wazir Akbar Khan district of the city, which houses embassies, foreign non- governmental organizations and the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, headquarters.

A single heavy explosion followed an exchange of gunfire between Afghan security forces and militants. After the explosion, two militants entered the restaurant’s kitchen and began shooting, Zahir said. The two were shot dead later by Afghan forces, he said.

IMF official

The explosion shattered windows of Norway’s and other nearby embassies in the same block as the restaurant, Gul Agha, an eyewitness, said in a phone interview.

The IMF said its resident representative in Afghanistan, Wabel Abdallah, was killed in the attack. Abdallah, 60, had served in the position since 2008, the fund said in a statement.

This is tragic news, and we at the fund are all devastated, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said in the statement.

Those killed included Canadian, Russian and Lebanese nationals, Zahir said. Two people were wounded, he said.

A UK national was also among the dead, the London Evening Standard reported, citing the British Foreign Office, without identifying the victim.

State department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters in Washington on Friday that while the US was still gathering information on the attack, all American embassy personnel were accounted for.

Security accord

The attack took place as Afghan President Hamid Karzai weighs signing a bilateral security accord with the US that would allow a reduced presence of foreign troops. President Barack Obama’s administration says the deal must be completed quickly if the US is to keep any forces in the country after most combat troops pull out at the end of the year.

The bombing was the third in the Afghan capital in less than two weeks. On 4 January, Taliban forces detonated a bomb near Camp Eggers, a US military base in the heart of Kabul, resulting in no casualties. On 12 January, a Taliban bomber on a bicycle blew himself up near an Afghan police convoy, wounding six policemen.

This violence is unacceptable and must stop immediately, Jan Kubis, head of the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, said in a separate statement condemning the attacks. BLOOMBERG

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