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Taliban suicide car bomber hits Afghan restaurant popular with foreigners

Three people were wounded by the attack, which the Taliban claimed responsibility for.

Afghan security forces inspect the site of the explosion where three were wounded.
Afghan security forces inspect the site of the explosion where three were wounded.
Image: AP Photo/Rahmat Gul

A TALIBAN SUICIDE car bomber hit a French restaurant popular with foreigners in Kabul on Friday, in a New Year’s day attack that marks the latest in a series of brazen insurgent assaults.

Three people were wounded from 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 11 January, aimed at jump-starting peace negotiations with the resurgent Taliban.

Security forces cordoned off the area and firefighters and ambulances with wailing sirens were seen rushing to the restaurant.

A spokesperson for the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and said the bombers targeted a restaurant belonging to foreigners.

Afghanistan Afghan security forces inspect the site of the explosion where three were wounded. Source: Rahmat Gul/Press Association Images

Upcoming peace talks

The attack comes just days after Pakistan’s powerful army chief General Raheel Sharif visited Kabul to try to prepare the ground for fresh peace talks with the resurgent Taliban.

Both sides agreed to hold a first round of dialogue between Afghanistan, Pakistan, the US, and China on 11 January to lay out a comprehensive roadmap for peace, officials in Kabul said.

Pakistan – the Taliban’s historic backers – hosted a milestone first round of talks in July but the negotiations stalled when the insurgents belatedly confirmed the death of longtime leader Mullah Omar.

Afghanistan sees the support of Pakistan as vital to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table.

But despite the growing bonhomie with Islamabad, analysts caution that any substantive talks are still a long way off.

Afghan forces are currently battling to push back Taliban insurgents who seized large swathes of the key opium-rich district of Sangin in the southern province of Helmand.

Observers say the intensifying insurgency highlights a push by the Taliban to make more military gains to try to achieve greater concessions during talks.

The Taliban attacked a restaurant popular with expats, the Taverna du Liban, in January 2014, killing 21 people, including 13 foreigners.

Desperate customers tried to hide under tables as one attacker detonated his suicide vest at the fortified entrance to the eatery and two other militants stormed inside and opened fire.

(Additional reporting by AP)

- © AFP, 2016

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