Attack left 21 people dead, including two Canadians
By Patrick Vaillancourt, News Editor
Afghan security forces have confirmed that 21 people have been killed after a suicide bomber struck a busy restaurant in the heart of the capital, Kabul.
The restaurant, La Taverna du Liban, which offered up Lebanese cuisine, was popular among tourists and foreigners working in Afghanistan and was in an area of the capital which was home to foreign embassies, government offices, and international aid agencies working in the country.
Among the dead are 13 foreigners, including two Canadian men who were working for the Quebec accounting firm Samson & Associates. They are Martin Glazer of Gatineau and Peter McSheffrey of Ottawa. Both men had received training prior to going to Afghanistan, which included strategies for what to do and what to avoid in a war zone.
The attack also killed three United Nations staffers, a member of the European Police Mission in Afghanistan, two American University employees, and the representative from the International Monetary Fund in Afghanistan.
The Taliban—which was the governing regime in the country until an American-led coalition invaded Afghanistan in 2001 in the first leg of the War on Terrorism—has claimed responsibility for the bombing.
The bombing has sparked condemnation from the international community, with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calling on the parties involved in the ongoing Afghan conflict to halt hostilities.
“Such targeted attacks against civilians are completely unacceptable and are in flagrant breach of international humanitarian law,” said Ban in a statement released from his office. “They must stop immediately.”
Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird also condemned the attack and offered condolences to the families of the Canadians killed.
“Canada condemns in the strongest possible terms the targeted, cowardly terrorist attack today on a restaurant in Kabul,” said Baird in a statement January 17, the day the attack occurred.
International development and humanitarian agencies, along with the assistance of the international community, have made a long-term commitment to stabilizing Afghanistan, a country which has not experienced relative peace in the last four decades. Agencies are focussed on such things as rebuilding infrastructure, and assisting in bringing stability to the country’s economic, legal, and political systems. The Taliban, with the support of Al-Qaeda’s network of militants, are making the work for these agencies difficult and dangerous.
In claiming responsibility for the attack, a Taliban spokesperson revealed in an emailed statement to the Associated Press that they targeted a place “where the invaders used to dine with booze and liquor in the plenty.”
A small contingent of Canadian Forces personnel remain in Afghanistan in a training role, but they are expected to return home in March. No further Canadian missions to Afghanistan are planned at this time.