A Taliban attack that killed 21 was apparent payback for earlier airstrikes that caused Afghan civilian deaths, say reports. The attack was carried out on a restaurant in the heart of Kabul by what has been termed a suicide squad.
The attack occurred in the early evening hours outside of a restaurant popular with foreign workers. A suicide bomber detonated his vest outside the gate of the restaurant while two armed gunmen came in the back door of the restaurant and razed the diners. Americans, Britons, Canadians, and Afghanis are all reported among the dead.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said four UN workers were among those reported dead, and condemned the attack. While Ban Ki-Moon did not identify who those UN workers were, UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said the horrific attack demonstrated blatant disregard for humanitarian law.
The Taliban were all too eager to claim responsibility for Saturday’s attack against La Taverna du Liban. The Lebanese restaurant had the reputation of being one of the most secure establishments in the city. The militant group claimed responsibility for the attack within an hour of its occurrence. The Taliban said the suicide attack was retaliation for an airstrike by U.S. forces Wednesday.
It seems the only people who escaped the attack were local employees of the restaurant. Some of the local employees jumped from the roof when the attack occurred. The attack is part of an apparent campaign by the Taliban to step their militancy up, although U.S. troops are gearing up to leave the area by the end of 2014.
The Taliban attack that killed 21 has resulted in one of the largest losses of life for Westerners since the Afghanistan conflict began over a decade ago. Life in Kabul never seemed to reach the scale of violence that life in Baghdad did during the Iraq War, but in recent months, Westerners in the area are starting to become concerned as the Taliban seems to be targeting non-combatants in their attacks on an increasingly regular basis.
Wednesday’s airstrike was called in by Afghanistan and U.S. forces, who were under attack by the Taliban. The U.S. has been frequently criticized for their collateral damage in their attacks; several U.S. attacks have resulted in civilian deaths throughout the decade-long war in Afghanistan.
NATO-led forces have handed security for the region over to Afghanistan-led forces, so that is suspected to be contributing to the upswing in attacks. In condemning the attack, Afghan president Hamid Karzai also took a shot at Washington, saying that the U.S. needs to truly point its crosshairs at terrorism if they want to be on the same team as Afghan forces.
The Taliban attack that killed 21 has only fuelled the militant organization’s confidence. The Taliban have said they expect to reclaim power once Western troops leave the region. Washington is currently pushing President Karzai to sign an agreement that would see a handful of American troops stay in the region. The last significant attack that targeted foreign workers occurred October 13, 2013, where a fortified guesthouse was attacked by a suicide bomber. That resulted in the deaths of two passers-by.
By Christina St-Jean