Suicide bomber hits Kabul restaurant

The Le Jardin restaurant seen on fire after an explosion in Kabul on Jan 1.
The Le Jardin restaurant seen on fire after an explosion in Kabul on Jan 1. PHOTO: REUTERS

KABUL • A Taleban suicide car bomber hit a French restaurant popular with foreigners in Kabul yesterday, in a New Year's Day attack that highlighted an intensifying insurgency in the country.

A child was reportedly killed and two people were wounded in the attack on Le Jardin, an Afghan- owned eatery, according to the BBC. But Reuters reported that five people were wounded, quoting police officials.

The attack comes a day after Afghanistan announced four-way talks in Pakistan on Jan 11, aimed at jump-starting peace negotiations with the resurgent Taleban.

"We can confirm a suicide car bomb attack on Le Jardin," Kabul's Criminal Investigation Department head Fraidoon Obaidi said. "We are busy extinguishing the fire at the scene."

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

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 Taleban.

Both sides agreed to hold a first round of dialogue between Afghanistan, Pakistan, the United States and China on Jan 11 to lay out a comprehensive road map for peace, officials in Kabul said.

Pakistan - the Taleban's historic backer - 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. Observers say the intensifying insurgency highlights a push by the Taleban to make more military gains to try to secure greater concessions during talks.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 02, 2016, with the headline 'Suicide bomber hits Kabul restaurant'. Print Edition | Subscribe