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Suicide Bomb Rocks Downtown Kabul

A suicide bomber reportedly detonated explosives near a Lebanese restaurant frequented by foreigners in a central neighborhood of Kabul late Friday night. There were confirmed casualties from the attack, but the exact details are unknown.

According to Ministry of Interior (MoI) spokesman Sediq Sediqqi, Afghan security forces have cordoned off the area around the restaurant, called Taverna du Liban. The restaurant sits in the Wazir Akbar Khan area of the capital that houses a number of embassies.

Police officials have indicated there there were gunmen inside the restaurant following the blast. And bystanders told TOLOnews' reporter on the scene that scattered gunshots were heard before and after the explosion.

Initial reports indicate that employees of the restaurant were amongst the casualties. Six injured civilians were spotted by TOLOnews reporters, but whether they were inside or outside the restaurant at the time of the attack is unknown.

Taverna du Liban is a popular restaurant in Kabul with high security and the reputation for serving foreign diplomats and aid workers. It is known to draw crowds on Friday nights.

The Taliban's spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack, which he said was targeting foreign officials. 

There have been a number of high-profile Taliban attacks in the capital since the start of 2014, after the country saw one of the bloodiest fighting seasons of the 13-year war last year.

Despite claiming to only target Afghan security forces, government officials and foreigners, Taliban attacks, especially in urban settings such as Kabul, often result in predominantely Afghan civilian casualties.

The United Nations has attributed over 70 percent of all civilian casualties in Afghanistan to Taliban attacks.

Friday, 17 January 2014, TOLO News

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