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    21 Dead in Attack On Kabul Restaurant

    Afghan authorities say the death toll from a Taliban attack on a Lebanese restaurant in Kabul frequented by foreigners and affluent Afghans, rose to 21 on Saturday.

    Among the dead were two Americans, two British citizens, two Canadians, and a senior International Monetary Fund official from Lebanon.

    Four United Nations personnel were killed, but their nationalities are not immediately clear.

    Officials say five women were among the dead. At least four people were wounded in the attack.

    In Washington, the U.S. State Department condemned the attack, calling it senseless violence. A written statement said terrorists continue to demonstrate blatant disregard for life and a prosperous future Afghans are working hard to achieve. The message said the U.S. remains committed to peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan.

    U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham said the Taliban target people who "have hope in and work for" Afghanistan's success. He said the insurgents "only destroy, they cannot build."

    Authorities say a bomber blew himself up outside the restaurant Friday and that two gunmen entered the establishment and opened fire. The gunmen also were killed.

    The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was to avenge a military operation earlier in the week in Parwan province. The militants said a number of civilians were killed in the Parwan strike.

    Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Majahid said the restaurant was targeted because that is where the "invaders used to dine with booze and liquor."

    The commander of NATO's International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, General Joseph Dunford, also condemned the Taliban attack and urged the group to stop what he called "the premeditated and indiscriminate slaughter of civilians."



    The International Monetary Fund said its representative in Afghanistan, 60-year-old Lebanese national Wabel Abdallah, was killed. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde issued a statement saying, "This is tragic news, and we at the fund are all devastated."

    A statement attributed to the spokesperson for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Mr. Ban condemns in the strongest terms the horrific attack that left the four U.N. staffers dead. The statement said such targeted attacks against civilians are completely unacceptable, are in flagrant breach of international humanitarian law and must stop immediately.

    The U.N. Security Council stressed the need to bring the "perpetrators, organizers, financiers and sponsors of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice."

    A number of embassies and foreign organizations have offices in the area of the attack, and many Afghan officials live nearby.

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