A Taliban suicide car bomber struck a French restaurant popular with foreigners in the Afghan capital on Friday, killing at least two people in a New Year’s day attack that marks the latest in a series of brazen insurgent assaults.
Fifteen others were wounded in the attack on Le Jardin, an Afghan-owned eatery, which caused a piercingly loud explosion and left a building engulfed in flames.
The attack comes a day after Afghanistan announced four-way talks in Pakistan on January 11, aimed at jump-starting peace negotiations with the resurgent Taliban.
“We can confirm a suicide car bomb attack on Le Jardin,” Fraidoon Obaidi, the head of Kabul’s Criminal Investigation Department, told AFP.
“We are busy extinguishing the fire at the scene… two Afghans have been killed and 15 others wounded,” he added.
The Italian-run Emergency Hospital in Kabul said on Twitter that the fatalities included a 12-year-old boy who was declared dead on arrival.
Security forces cordoned off the area and firefighters and ambulances were seen rushing to the restaurant, which sports a large garden festooned with rose bushes and is a popular hangout for foreigners and wealthy Afghans.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid on Twitter claimed several foreigners had been killed and wounded in the suicide attack.
Taliban insurgents routinely exaggerate the death toll in attacks on government and foreign targets.
Friday’s bombing evoked memories of an audacious Taliban attack on another restaurant popular with expats, the Taverna du Liban, in January 2014, which left 21 people dead, including 13 foreigners.