Martin Glazer, left, and Peter McSheffrey, right, had only been in Kabul for less than week before dying in a restaurant explosion. Pierre Samson, head of the Gatineau, Que.-based firm Samson and Associates, said the two employees were in the Afghan capital to do auditing for the Canadian International Development Agency. Samson said they were having dinner at La Taverna du Liban, a restaurant popular with foreigners and affluent Afghans, when the bomb went off. LinkedIn
The death toll from a Taliban attack on a Kabul restaurant popular with foreigners and affluent Afghans has risen to 21 people, officials said Saturday, in the deadliest violence against foreign civilians in the country since the start of the war nearly 13 years ago.
Two Canadians, senior auditors at the financial services firm Samson & Associates, were among the foreigners killed in Friday's attack on La Taverna du Liban restaurant — which involved a suicide bomber and two gunmen.
Peter McSheffrey, 49, from Ottawa, and Martin Glazer, from Gatineau, Que., have been identified by their employer as the two Canadians killed in the attack. Both worked for consulting firm Samson & Associates.
Robert McSheffrey, Peter's brother, released a statement calling his death "tragic and shocking."
"What makes this particularly difficult for the family is that Peter was a victim of senseless violence against innocent people. Peter loved to travel and was doing meaningful work."
Glazer, an avid cross-country skier and cyclist, had been with the company for nine years.
Company president Pierre Samson said they had been in the country for less than a week, working for Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada and overseeing an audit. They were due back in Canada next week.
"Canada condemns in the strongest possible terms the targeted, cowardly terrorist attack today on a restaurant in Kabul," Foreign Minister John Baird said in a statement issued shortly after the attack on the Lebanese restaurant
Kabul police chief Gen. Mohammad Zahir Zahir said the victims included 13 foreigners and eight Afghans and said the majority were civilians. Two U.S. citizens who died were working for the American University of Afghanistan.
3 UN employees, IMF official killed
The dead included the head of the International Monetary Fund in Afghanistan, three United Nations staff and a member of the European Police Mission in Afghanistan. The UN had initially reported four dead, but had counted the IMF representative.
At least four people were wounded and about eight Afghans, mostly the kitchen staff, survived.
Police shot and killed the two gunmen inside the restaurant.
The dead included the head of the IMF in Afghanistan, Wabel Abdallah, a 60-year-old Lebanese national; a Danish female police officer and her British bodyguard, and a Malaysian — while the UN in Kabul said its three staff members included a Pakistani, a Russian and a Somali-American.
The restaurant's Lebanese owner, Kamal Hamade, was also killed.
In light of the attack, the U.S. renewed its call for the Taliban to lay down its weapons and begin peace talks with the Afghan government. White House spokesman Jay Carney on Saturday said such a move is the surest way to bring a peaceful end to the conflict in Afghanistan.
Among the British citizens killed was development specialist Dharmender Singh Phangura, who planned to run as a Labour Party candidate in upcoming elections for the European Parliament.
The U.S. State Department also condemned the assault, calling it " despicable," adding "terrorists continue to demonstrate blatant disregard for life and for the peaceful, prosperous future Afghans want and are working so hard to achieve."
The attack was also condemned by the UN Security Council, NATO and the European Union.
"I strongly condemn this attack on random civilians and my thoughts and deepest sympathy goes to the next of kin," Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt said in a statement.
"I condemn in the strongest possible terms this appalling and unjustifiable violence. The perpetrators must be brought to justice," EU High Representative Catherine Ashton said Saturday.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai's office has not yet condemned the attack.
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. 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."
During the operation last Wednesday in eastern Parwan province, Afghan officials said that Taliban fighters opened fire on an Afghan commando unit trying to capture an insurgent leader in his home. After opening fire on the Afghan soldiers, killing one of their American advisers, the team called the U.S.-led coalition for air support.
The governor of Parwan, Abdul Basir Salangi, said a Taliban leader, three of his family members and five civilians in a neighbouring home, from which insurgents were also firing on the Afghan commandos, died in the ensuing combat. He added that seven Taliban fighters were also killed.
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 happened near Kabul airport. They included eight South Africans and a Kyrgyz.
The Taliban have stepped up a campaign of violence in recent months after foreign forces handed over control of security for the country to the Afghan army and police ahead of their full withdrawal by the end of 2014.
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