A Briton was among more than a dozen people killed in a suicide attack on a restaurant in Kabul, the Foreign Office has confirmed.
Up to 16 people, believed to be a mix of Westerners and Afghans, are feared to have lost their lives in the attack in which a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the restaurant before two gunmen burst through the back door and opened fire.
Responsibility for the attack was claimed within minutes by the Taliban which triumphantly announced it had attacked foreigners as they were “coming for dinner”.
Confirming that a Briton was among the dead, a spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “We can confirm the death of a British national and we stand ready to provide consular assistance to the family."
Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, said its representative in Afghanistan had been killed in the attack. Wabel Abdallah, from the Lebanon, was appointed in 2008.
The United Nations said some of its workers could be among the victims, with four employees who "reportedly could have been present in close proximity to the scene of the attack" unaccounted for, said Ari Gaitanis.
Jan Kubis, the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative for Afghanistan, said: "I strongly condemn the targeting of civilians in any form, and, in particular, the continued use of suicide bombers. This violence is unacceptable and must stop immediately."
In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki described the attack as a “despicable act of terrorism”.
Deputy Afghan Interior Minister Ayoub Salangai said in a tweet that the dead included four women.
The restaurant, La Taverna du Liban, is popular among Western aid agencies workers, officials and media.
Heavy fortifications were intended to protect diners and staff with security measures including a series of steel airlocks, searches, and sandbags piled up against walls.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the attack on what he described as “a foreign hotel”.
The gunmen who opened fire inside the restaurant were killed by security guards, said Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqi.
General Mohammad Zahir Zahir, Kabul’s police chief, said the 16 dead were all killed inside the restaurant. Four women are believed to be among the dead and there were at least four people who were wounded.
The Taliban have increased their attacks in recent months after Coalition forces, which are due to leave by the end of the year, handed over control of security to the Afghan army and police.