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More than a dozen killed in Taliban attack on Kabul restaurant

More than a dozen people, including foreigners, have been killed after a suicide bomber and two gunmen attacked a popular Lebanese restaurant in Kabul. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

At least 14 people were killed in Friday's attack at the Taverna du Liban in the Afghanistan capital's upscale Wazir Akbar Khan diplomatic quarter.

"There were three attackers. All have been killed. Unfortunately, 14 people have also been killed, including some foreigners," city police chief General Mohammed Zahir Zahir told reporters without providing a breakdown.

In a statement claiming responsibility for the attack, the Taliban said that German nationals had been killed. The German Foreign Ministry would not confirm whether any citizens were among the victims.

Approximately five hours after the attack, the United Nations confirmed four of its employees were unaccounted for.

Popular with foreign workers

Like many establishments in Kabul, Taverna du Liban requires patrons to be patted down and go through at least two steel doors before entering the restaurant. The restaurant is located in a neighborhood frequented by foreign diplomats, aid workers, journalists and businessmen.

The attack occurred around dinner time. A suicide bomber detonated his explosives in or near the restaurant before guards killed two other attackers in a gun battle that lasted around a half hour.

Officials said there were four people wounded in the attack. The scene was closed off to reporters, as security officials worked to help the injured and ensure no attackers remained.

Increased security concern

Insurgents have frequently

targeted foreign targets

in Kabul, including the United Nations compound last year. The Supreme Court, the airport and presidential palace were also all attacked in 2013.

Security concerns are heightened ahead of Afghanistan's April presidential election, when a successor to Hamid Karzai will be chosen.

US-led NATO forces are due to withdraw from the country at the end of this year after more than a decade of fighting the Taliban.

Negotiations over a security pact

that would allow some US troops to remain in Afghanistan have stalled.

dr/mkg (AP, Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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