A Taliban assault on a Kabul restaurant on Friday was the deadliest attack against foreign civilians in the entire course of the war in Afghanistan. Of the 21 people civilians killed, 13 of them were foreigners, including American, British, and Canadian citizens as well as IMF and UN officials.
The attack sent shockwaves through the international delegations working in Afghanistan which, despite the violence, had enjoyed a certain level of insulation. With the Western military presence on the wane, that dynamic might be changing.
"Kabul during the Afghan war never grew as violent as Baghdad during the Iraq war. But as the coalition’s gradual withdrawal becomes more apparent with each passing month, it has grown harder to dismiss the obvious vulnerabilities of life here. While the insurgents have largely focused their anger on military installations and government institutions, the attack on the restaurant, Taverna du Liban, a mainstay of the Kabul social scene that catered mainly to foreigners but also to well-to-do Afghans, showed a frightening willingness by the insurgents to strike noncombatants and civilian targets."
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the strike, calling it a retaliation for a coalition airstrike earlier in the week.
Following the assault, which included both a suicide bomber and Taliban gunmen, a telling number of tributes went out to Taverna du Liban, the target of the attack. One correspondent wrote about Kamal Hamade, the owner of the restaurant, whom she said "treated each of his customers as a personal friend" and served wine in teapots after Afghani officials cracked down on alcohol.
Another recalled: "When some of his [Hamade's] staff were arrested a few years ago in a local dispute, Kamal insisted on going to jail with them because he thought his presence would get them out more quickly. It worked."
Yesterday, the White House condemned the attack.