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This article was published 17/1/2014 (981 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
KABUL, Afghanistan -- Two Canadians were among those who died in a brutal suicide attack on Friday at a restaurant in the Afghanistan capital of Kabul, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird's office confirmed.
There was no further information about the two Canadian victims. Baird's office said it could not release further information because of privacy concerns.
Canada is winding up a military training mission in Afghanistan, but sources in the Department of National Defence told The Canadian Press no uniformed personnel were among the casualties.
The restaurant is located close to Canada's embassy in Kabul and is a popular spot for Canadians living and visiting the capital. A spokesman for Baird says all embassy staff were safe and accounted for.
"Canada condemns in the strongest possible terms the targeted, cowardly terrorist attack today on a restaurant in Kabul," Baird said in an emailed statement Friday. "On behalf of all Canadians, we extend our sincerest condolences to the families and friends of those who were killed and injured in this horrible and senseless act of terror."
Afghan officials said a suicide bomber blew himself up outside La Taverna du Liban, which was filled with foreigners and affluent Afghans, while two gunmen snuck in through the back door and opened fire.
The total number of dead was unclear, with some media reports citing 14, others 16.
The Taliban claimed responsibility within an hour of the attack. It's part of a stepped-up campaign of violence against foreign and government interests to send a message the militants are not going anywhere as the U.S.-led coalition winds down its combat mission at the end of the year.
Kabul police Chief Gen. Mohammad Zahir Zahir said the people killed were all inside the restaurant. He said both foreigners and Afghans were among the dead, but he did not provide a breakdown. Officials said at least four other people were wounded.
Four United Nations personnel were among those killed, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. The four were not identified.
The UN chief condemned Friday's attack, saying "such targeted attacks against civilians are completely unacceptable and are in flagrant breach of international humanitarian law," UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.
Britain's Foreign Office confirmed late Friday a British national was among the dead.
The International Monetary Fund's representative in Afghanistan, Wabel Abdallah, also was among those killed.
Deputy Afghan Interior Minister Ayoub Salangai said in a tweet the dead included four women.
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said all U.S. Embassy personnel were accounted for.
Security officials, speaking 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, non-governmental 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 restaurant, like most facilities that are frequented by foreign diplomats, aid workers, journalists and businessmen in the war-weary country, has no signs indicating its location and is heavily secured. It sits on a small side street just off a bumpy semi-paved road in a house with low ceilings and an enclosed patio but no windows.
The bombing served as a reminder although militant violence in the capital has dropped off in recent months, insurgents remain capable of carrying out attacks inside the most heavily guarded areas.
Bags of dirt are piled up around it to act as blast walls, and guests must go through a series of steel airlocks, where they are searched, before entering. The surrounding area is full of police and security guards to protect against insurgent attacks, which have increased in recent months around the country.
Police at the scene did not allow reporters near the restaurant, located in the diplomatic quarter of the central Wazir Akbar Khan area, as they rushed to help the wounded and ensure there were no more gunmen.
-- The Canadian Press / The Associated Press