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2 Americans among victims of Afghan suicide attack

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Two Americans, the International Monetary Fund's senior official in Afghanistan and four United Nations workers, were among 21 people killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up near a Lebanese restaurant in Kabul Friday night.

La Taverna du Liban, targeted in the attack in the Afghan capital, was popular with foreign nationals, Afghan officials and businesspeople, the city's police chief Mohammad Zahir Zahir said.

The American University of Afghanistan said that two of its U.S. employees -- one on the political science faculty, another on the student affairs staff -- were among the 13 foreigners reported killed.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in an emailed statement that it targeted Germans and other foreign nationals dining in the restaurant.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack "in the strongest terms," according to a statement released by the world body confirming the deaths of its four employees. "Targeted attacks against civilians are completely unacceptable and are in flagrant breach of international humanitarian law," the UN statement said.

The attack happened around 7:25 p.m. in the Wazir Akbar Khan district of the city, which houses embassies, foreign nongovernmental organizations and the International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF, headquarters.

A single heavy explosion followed an exchange of gunfire between Afghan security forces and militants. After the explosion, two militants entered the restaurant's kitchen and began shooting, Zahir said. The two were shot dead later by Afghan forces, he said.

The IMF said its resident representative in Afghanistan, Wabel Abdallah, was killed in the attack. Abdallah, 60, had served in the position since 2008, the fund said in a statement.

"This is tragic news, and we at the fund are all devastated," IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said in the statement.

Those killed also included Canadian, Russian and Lebanese nationals, Zahir said. Two people were wounded, he said. A U.K. national was also among the dead, the London Evening Standard reported, citing the British Foreign Office, without identifying the victim.

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