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Four UN employees and a senior IMF official were among 21 people killed in a suicide bomb and gun attack on Taverna du Liban restaurant in Kabul, officials say.
Wabel Abdallah, the head of the IMF’s Afghanistan office, and the UN civilian staff died in what UN chief Ban Ki-moon said was a “horrific attack”.
Canadians, Lebanese, Britons and Americans were among the 13 foreign victims; the other eight were Afghans.
The Taliban said they carried out the attack late on Friday.
Five women were among the dead at the city’s popular Taverna du Liban, and at least five were injured, police say.
The restaurant in Kabul’s Wazir Akbar Khan area is popular with foreign nationals, diplomats and aid workers, and was busy with diners at the time of the attack.
A suicide attacker detonated his explosives outside the gate of the heavily fortified restaurant, Deputy Interior Minister Mohammad Ayoub Salangi said.
Mohammad Ayoub Salangi said two gunmen then entered the restaurant and started “indiscriminately killing” people inside.
Four UN employees and a senior IMF official were among 21 people killed in a suicide bomb and gun attack on Taverna du Liban restaurant in Kabul
IMF chief Christine Lagarde later confirmed that Wabel Abdallah, 60, a Lebanese national, was among those who died.
“This is tragic news, and we at the fund are all devastated,” Christine Lagarde said in a statement.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned “in the strongest terms the horrific attack”, his spokesman said.
“Such targeted attacks against civilians are completely unacceptable and are in flagrant breach of international humanitarian law. They must stop immediately,” Ban ki-moon was quoted as saying.
At least two US citizens died in the attack, the US embassy in Kabul said.
Kamal Hamade, the well-known Lebanese owner of the restaurant, and five women were among the dead. A number of people were injured.
“I was sitting with my friends in the kitchen when an explosion happened and smoke filled the kitchen,” Abdul Majid, a chef at the restaurant, told AFP news agency.
“A man came inside shouting and he started shooting. One of my colleagues was shot and fell down. I ran to the roof and threw myself to the neighboring property.”
The attackers were eventually shot dead by the security forces when they arrived at the scene.
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Turkish Marxist group Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) has claimed it carried a suicide attack on the US embassy in Ankara on Friday.
DHKP-C said the “act of self-sacrifice” had targeted the US, which the group called “murderer of the people of the world”.
The bomber and a guard were killed in the attack at a side entrance of the heavily guarded compound.
The US has warned its citizens not to visit diplomatic missions in Turkey until further notice.
In an online statement the DHKP-C said: “Our warrior Alisan Sanli carried out an act of self-sacrifice on 1 February 2013, by entering the Ankara embassy of the United States, murderer of the people of the world.”
Turkey and the US have denounced the incident as terrorism.
A number of illegal groups ranging from Kurdish separatists to leftist and Islamist militants have launched attacks in Turkey in recent years.
Turkish Marxist group Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front (DHKP-C) has claimed it carried a suicide attack on the US embassy in Ankara on Friday
The US state department said a Turkish woman visiting the embassy had been seriously hurt and several staff members had suffered minor injuries.
The DHKP-C is designated a terrorist organization in the US and Europe.
The extreme-left group has been blamed for a number of attacks since the 1970s, including some on US diplomatic missions.
Turkish police carried out a series of raids on suspected members in January.
The embassy building is heavily protected but the US has had long-standing plans to move its compound elsewhere for security reasons.
It was recently reported to be in the final stages of a deal to choose an alternative location.
At least one person has been killed in a blast outside the US embassy in the Turkish capital, Ankara, with reports that it was a suicide bomber.
Dozens of ambulances and fire engines rushed to the scene after the explosion, in an area which is home to diplomatic missions.
According to Turkish broadcaster NTV, the explosion caused no damage inside the embassy itself.
There were no reports of any group saying it had carried out the attack.
The AP news agency quoted police as saying two people had been killed in a suicide attack and NTV said two security guards at the entrance had died.
A number of illegal groups ranging from Kurdish separatists to leftist and Islamist militants have launched attacks in recent years in Turkey, which is a member of NATO.
At least one person has been killed in a blast outside the US embassy in the Turkish capital, Ankara, with reports that it was a suicide bomber
Yemeni army commander General Salem Ali Qatan leading the fight against militants in the south of the country has been killed in a suicide attack, officials say.
General Salem Ali Qatan was killed near his home in the port city of Aden, a medical official told AFP news agency.
Yemen is battling militants linked to al-Qaeda who have taken control of parts of the south of the country.
It has recently recaptured several strongholds in the restive southern province of Abyan.
General Salem Ali Qatan was killed near his home in the port city of Aden
Gen. Salem Ali Qatan, Yemen’s southern army commander, was killed while on his way to work by a man wearing an explosives belt, witnesses said.
One report said the attacker handed Gen. Salem Ali Qatan a paper, shook his hand and then detonated his explosives.
At least four other people were wounded in the attack, AFP reported.
An al-Qaeda-linked insurgency and separatist unrest have blighted the south of Yemen for years.
Last year, empowered by uprisings against former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Islamists consolidated their control over Abyan.
However, the Yemeni army recently launched an offensive that recaptured the towns of Shuqra, Zinjibar and Jaar.
At least 48 people died and dozens have been injured in a wave of bombings and shootings across Iraq, police say.
The attacks targeted predominantly Shia areas, in particular police officers and checkpoints.
In Baghdad, nine people died in two successive blasts in the central Karrada district. Outside the capital, at least two were killed in Baquba.
No group has yet said it was behind the violence. Attacks in Iraq have risen since US troops withdrew in December.
Tolls from other attacks around Baghdad include:
• six dead after a car bomb in Shia-dominated Kadhimiya, norht of Baghdad
• six killed by gunmen at a police checkpoint in the Sarafiya district of the capital
• two dead and five injured in an explosion in the western al-Mansour district
• two killed and 10 injured in two explosions in Dorat Abo Sheer, southern Baghdad
• two killed and nine wounded in an attack by gunmen using weapons with silencers, targeting a police patrol in Saidiya, southern Baghdad
• seven injured, most of them policemen, in a blast in al-Madaen, south of Baghdad
• five civilians injured in a bomb explosion in Taji, north of Baghdad
There are also reports of bombings in the provinces of Salahuddin and Kirkuk.
The capital of Salahuddin province is Tikrit, the home town of former leader Saddam Hussein, who was executed in 2006.
There are fears the death toll from Thursday’s violence could rise.
Last week, at least 18 people were killed in a suicide attack near the Iraqi police academy in the capital.
Shia targets have come under increasing attack since the government of Shia Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki moved against senior members of the predominantly Sunni Iraqiya political bloc.
The day after US troops withdrew a warrant was issued for the arrest of Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi, who is accused of financing death squads.
Tariq al- Hashemi, who denies the charges, is currently in Iraqi Kurdistan, under the protection of the regional government.
Al-Qaeda in Iraq said it carried out previous waves of attacks in December and January.
However, a senior government official said the upsurge in violence since the withdrawal of US troops was politically motivated. The official blamed Tariq al- Hashemi for planning and co-ordinating the attacks.
At least 10 people have been killed and 46 have been injured in a suicide attack on a district in central Damascus, Syria, according to the state media.
National state TV showed pictures of the blood-spattered streets of Midan district following the attack, which it blamed on “terrorists”.
Two weeks ago 44 people died in similar blasts the authorities also blamed on terrorists. Opposition activists accused the government of staging them.
Arab League monitors are in Syria on a month-long observer mission.
They are trying to ensure compliance with a peace plan, but activists say a Syrian government crackdown has continued, with scores of people killed.
At least 10 people have been killed and 46 have been injured in a suicide attack on a district in central Damascus, Syria
A resident of Midan – the scene of reported anti-government protests in recent weeks – told Reuters news agency that ambulances were in the area.
Most foreign correspondents have been barred from reporting within Syria itself.
“Immediate information indicates that a suicide terrorist blew himself up at a traffic light in the Midan neighbourhood,” Reuters news agency quoted state television as saying.
According to state TV, at least 10 people are confirmed dead with authorities fearing the toll could rise to 25 and state news agency Sana said 46 had been injured.
According to Syrian authorities, most of those killed were civilians, but some security personnel were among the casualties.
TV pictures showed the shattered blood-splattered windows of what appeared to be a bus carrying policemen.
The Syrian government blamed a similar bombing two weeks ago on al-Qaeda, but no proof has been offered. Damascus blames the wider protests and violence in the country on Islamist militants.
Many observers are skeptical of those claims and opposition groups accuse the Syrian leadership of staging the blasts to try to influence Arab League observers, who are in the country to monitor the ongoing violence.
The Arab League mission has been criticized by opposition groups for failing to stem government violence and even for failing to report accurately the situation in Syria.
Burhan Ghalioun – the head of the main opposition group, the Syrian National Council – said he feared the observers could be providing political cover for the regime to suppress street protests.
Opposition activists have urged Syrians to take to the streets in mass protests ahead of an Arab League meeting in Cairo on Sunday, which will debate the initial findings of the observer mission.
At least 50 people have been killed and more than 70 have been injured in bomb attacks in southern Iraq and in the capital Baghdad.
Provincial officials said at least Shia pilgrims died in a suicide attack near the city of Nasiriya.
Earlier, Iraq’s Interior Ministry said at least 24 people were killed in blasts in Shia areas of Baghdad.
The attacks come amid a rise in sectarian tensions after the last US combat troops withdrew in December.
The head of the provincial council in Nasiriya, Qusay al-Abadi, said at least 30 pilgrims were killed and more than 70 injured in the attack near Nasiriya. AFP quoted the official Dhi Qar provincial website as saying the pilgrims were walking to the holy city of Karbala.
At least 50 people have been killed and more than 70 have been injured in bomb attacks in southern Iraq and in the capital Baghdad
The Baghdad attacks occurred during the city’s rush hour and the Interior Ministry says they targeted gatherings in of civilians in the Sadr City and Kadhimiya areas and injured at least 66 other people.
Unnamed officials told the AFP news agency that between 14 and 15 people had been killed when two car bombs exploded simultaneously in Kadhimiya at around 09:00. The Associated Press (AP) said 15 people died in the blasts.
Twelve people had earlier been killed when two bombs were detonated in Sadr City, AP reported officials as saying. It said the first was a motorbike bomb, which exploded near where labourers were gathering to look for work.
It quoted anonymous hospital officials as saying that 30 minutes later a roadside bomb exploded near a tea shop, killing one. AFP quoted security officials as saying nine people were killed and 35 wounded in the Sadr City attacks. Reuters put the toll at 10.
“There was a group of day labourers gathered, waiting to be hired for work. Someone brought his small motorcycle and parked it nearby. A few minutes later it blew up, killed some people, wounded others and burned some cars,” a police officer told Reuters at the scene of the first attack.
Iraq’s power-sharing government has been in crisis since an arrest warrant was issued for Sunni Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi on terror charges two weeks ago. He has denied the accusations against him.
The al-Iraqiyya group, the main Sunni bloc in parliament, is boycotting the assembly in protest. It accuses Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, a Shia, of monopolizing power.
Tariq al-Hashemi is currently in Irbil in Iraqi Kurdistan, under the protection of the regional government, but Nouri Maliki has demanded that they give him up.
“Political leaders fight each other for power, and we pay the price,” Labourer Ahmed Khalaf told AFP at the site of one of the Sadr City explosions.
“How is it our fault if al-Hashemi is wanted, or someone else is wanted?” he asked. “Why should we pay instead of them?”