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White House Condemns Kabul Restaurant Attack

Afghan police arrive at the scene of an explosion in Kabul on January 17.
Afghan police arrive at the scene of an explosion in Kabul on January 17.
The White House has condemned a deadly Taliban suicide attack on a Kabul restaurant, which killed 21 people, saying there was "no possible justification" for killing people who worked to help Afghans achieve a better future.

In a statement, the White House also reiterated its call on the Taliban to put down its arms and begin peace talks with the Afghan government.

The statement said such a move is "the surest way" to end the Afghan conflict in a peaceful manner.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the January 17 attack on a popular Lebanese restaurant in central Kabul that killed 21 people, including 13 foreigners.

Afghan police officials said the International Monetary Fund's representative in Afghanistan and four United Nations staff were among the dead.

Interior Ministry spokesman Siddiq Siddiqi said a suicide bomber blew himself up near the entrance to the Taverna restaurant in the capital's Wazir Akbar Khan district, which hosts many embassies and businesses catering to foreigners. Then, he said, two gunmen burst in to spray diners with bullets.

"There were three attackers, three terrorists that attacked one of the restaurants in Kabul. One of them with a suicide bomb and two of them with guns -- they opened fire on very innocent and defenseless civilians who were at the restaurant," Siddiqi said.

All three attackers died in the assault.

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The U.S. Embassy in Kabul confirmed on its Twitter account that at least two of the foreigners killed in the attack were U.S. citizens. They reportedly worked for the American University of Afghanistan.

Also among the dead, reportedly, are two British citizens, two Canadians, a Russian citizen, and the restaurant's Lebanese owner.

A female Danish member of the European police mission in the country was also reported among the dead.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack, saying attacks targeting civilians "are completely unacceptable and are in flagrant breach of international humanitarian law."

U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham described the attack as "a shameful act."

A Taliban spokesman said on Twitter that the attack was revenge for an air strike that had killed civilians in Parwan Province this week.

Based on reporting by AFP,Reuters, and Interfax