The Times West Virginian

Headline News

January 19, 2014

Afghan attack killing 21 people is deadliest of war for foreign workers

KABUL, Afghanistan — A Taliban attack against a popular Kabul restaurant killed 21 people, authorities said Saturday, making it the deadliest single attack against foreign civilians in the course of a nearly 13-year U.S.-led war there now approaching its end.  

The attack comes as security has been deteriorating and apprehension has been growing among Afghans over their country’s future as U.S.-led foreign forces prepare for a final withdrawal at the end of the year.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who is deferring signing an agreement allowing U.S. forces to stay past the planned withdrawal until after the country’s April 5 presidential election, criticized America while condemning the attack.

“If NATO forces and in the lead the United States of America want to cooperate and be united with Afghan people, they must target terrorism,” he said without fully elaborating on what America should be doing.  He added that the U.S. had followed a policy that “was not successful in the past decade.”

The dead from Friday’s assault against La Taverna du Liban included 13 foreigners and eight Afghans, all civilians. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul said late Saturday that three Americans were killed. Previously, those identified included two U.S. citizens working for the American University of Afghanistan and a victim identified by the United Nations as Basra Hassan, a Somali-American working as a  nutrition specialist for UNICEF.

Others identified were two Britons — development specialist Dharmender Singh Phangura and close protection officer Simon Chase — two Canadians who worked for a financial services firm, two Lebanese, a Danish police officer, a Russian, and a Malaysian. Phangura, who along with the Malaysian worked as an adviser for Adam Smith International, was to run as a Labour Party candidate in upcoming elections for the European Parliament.

Also among the dead were the International Monetary Fund’s representative, Khanjar Wabel Abdallah of Lebanon; Nasreen Khan, a UNICEF health specialist from Pakistan, and Vadim Nazarov, a Russian who was the chief political affairs officer at the U.N. Mission in Afghanistan. Nazarov was one of the U.N’s most experienced officials, fluent in the country’s languages and with experience dating back to the 1980s.  .

The attack was condemned by the U.N. Security Council, NATO, the White House and the European Union.

“There is no possible justification for this attack, which has killed innocent civilians, including Americans, working every day to help the Afghan people achieve a better future with higher education and economic assistance,” the White House said in a statement Saturday.

U.N. Secretary-General called the attack “totally unacceptable.”

“This is a violation of international humanitarian law. All the perpetrators must be held accountable,“ Ban said, adding that the U.N. “remains committed to work for the peace, stability and development of Afghanistan.”  

Insurgents have frequently targeted foreign interests around the country and in Kabul. The deadliest previous attack against foreign civilians was in Sept. 8, 2012, when nine civilian employees of a private aviation company were killed in a suicide attack near the Kabul airport. They included eight South Africans and a Kyrgyz.

The assault began Friday with a 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

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was in reprisal for an Afghan military operation earlier in the week against insurgents in eastern Parwan province, which the insurgents claimed killed many civilians.

Afghan officials previously said that attack killed a Taliban leader, three of his family members, seven Taliban fighters and five civilians in a neighboring home from which insurgents were also firing on the Afghan commandos. The Taliban frequently provide exaggerated casualty figures.

“The target of the attack was a restaurant frequented by high-ranking foreigners,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in an emailed statement. He said the attack targeted a place “where the invaders used to dine with booze and liquor in the plenty.”

He described the “revenge attack” as having delivered a “heavy admonitory blow to the enemy which they shall never forget.”

The restaurant, like most places 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 has no windows.

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.

“The restaurant was known to be one of the more secure in the area and has therefore been given a green-light by many expatriate and official organizations,” said Michael Smith, the president of the American University of Afghanistan.

1
Text Only
Headline News
  • House approves bill to boost child tax credit for some

    More families with higher incomes could claim the popular child tax credit under a bill that won approval Friday in the House. But in a dispute that divides Republicans and Democrats, millions of the poorest low-income families would still lose the credit in 2018, when enhancements championed by President Barack Obama are set to expire.

    July 26, 2014

  • U.S.: Russia firing across border into Ukraine

    Russia is launching artillery attacks from its soil on Ukrainian troops and preparing to move heavier weaponry across the border, the U.S. and Ukraine charged Friday in what appeared to be an ominous escalation of the crisis.
    Russia accused Washington of lying and charged Ukraine with firing across the border on a Russian village. It also toughened its economic measures against Ukraine by banning dairy imports.

    July 26, 2014

  • U.N. school in Gaza in cross-fire; 15 killed

    A U.N. school in Gaza crowded with hundreds of Palestinians seeking refuge from fierce fighting came under fire Thursday, killing at least 15 civilians and leaving a sad tableau of blood-spattered pillows, blankets and children’s clothing scattered in the courtyard.

    July 25, 2014

  • Jet with 116 on board crashes in Mali

    An Air Algerie jetliner carrying 116 people crashed Thursday in a rainstorm over restive Mali, and its wreckage was found near the border of neighboring Burkina Faso — the third major international aviation disaster in a week.

    July 25, 2014

  • Two more planes with Ukraine bodies arrive in Netherlands

    Two more military aircraft carrying remains of victims from the Malaysian plane disaster arrived in the Netherlands on Thursday, while Australian and Dutch diplomats joined to promote a plan for a U.N. team to secure the crash site which has been controlled by pro-Russian rebels.

    July 25, 2014

  • Obama demands ‘economic patriotism’

    Staking out a populist stand ahead of the midterm elections, President Barack Obama on Thursday demanded “economic patriotism” from U.S. corporations that use legal means to avoid U.S. taxes through overseas mergers.
    “I don’t care if it’s legal,” Obama declared. “It’s wrong.”

    July 24, 2014

  • Airline disasters come in a cluster

    Nearly 300 passengers perish when their plane is shot out of the sky. Airlines suspend flights to Israel’s largest airport after rocket attacks. Two airliners crash during storms. Aviation has suffered one of its worst weeks in memory, a cluster of disasters spanning three continents.

    July 24, 2014

  • Opponents: Evidence against lethal injection

    The nation’s third botched execution in six months offers more evidence for the courts that lethal injection carries too many risks and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment, death-row lawyers and other opponents said Thursday.

    July 24, 2014

  • Ancient Animal Dig.jpg Wyoming cave with fossil secrets to be excavated

    For the first time in three decades, scientists are about to revisit one of North America’s most remarkable troves of ancient fossils: the bones of tens of thousands of animals piled at least 30 feet deep at the bottom of a sinkhole-type cave.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bodies of Malaysian jet victims solemnly returned to Dutch soil

    Victims of the Malaysian jetliner shot down over Ukraine returned at last Wednesday to Dutch soil in 40 wooden coffins, solemnly and gently carried to 40 identical hearses, flags at half-staff flapping in the wind.

    July 24, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads