Two Canadians were among 15 people injured in a deadly suicide blast that ripped through an upscale Afghan supermarket on Friday, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.
No Canadians numbered among the eight victims killed when a suicide bomber affiliated with the Taliban detonated explosives in the middle of the western-style grocery store.
In a statement issued hours after the attack, Foreign Affairs said the two Canadians were receiving consular assistance in Kabul, but declined to provide further details.
Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon spoke out against the attack, which the Taliban said it orchestrated in an effort to kill an official with a U.S.-based security contractor.
Cannon “strongly” condemned the blast and offered condolences to the families of both Afghans and foreigners killed in the bombing.
“This cowardly attack demonstrates that the insurgents have complete disregard for the safety and lives of civilians,” Cannon said in a statement. “Those who perpetrated this act of violence and those that support the insurgency must be held accountable to the Afghan people for this injustice.”
The Finest supermarket — which sells such American staples as corn flakes, peanut butter and pasta sauce but also delicacies like brie, caviar and chocolate — was packed with foreigners and upper-class Afghans shopping on their day off when shots rang out about 2:30 p.m., sending customers scurrying for cover.
The assailant threw at least one grenade into the aisles and then detonated his explosives, said Ahmad Zaki, a criminal investigator with the Interior Ministry.
“To my left, I heard a gunshot. A bomb went off. Everyone was running to the back of the building,” said Mary Hayden, a western consultant who was in the store.
The blast blew out the store’s glass doors and sparked a small fire in the frozen food section. Black, acrid smoke filled the main floor of the two-story building. Young men who sell phone cards on the street outside the store rushed in to help pull out the injured and the dead.
“I was on the first floor and we heard a boom,” said Moujib, a 14-year-old Afghan boy who gave only one name.
“I might have heard some shooting. Then I saw fire everywhere,” he said while crying and clinging to his mother.
The dead included two Afghan women, a male Afghan child and at least two or three foreigners, said Deputy Kabul Police Chief Daud Amin. He said the other two victims had not been identified.
A Briton and three Filipinos were among the injured, he said.
The identities of the victims were not immediately released by either foreign or Afghan officials.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack, saying the “enemies of Afghanistan are so desperate that they are now killing civilians, including women, inside a food market.”
Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a statement posted on the group’s website that none of those killed were truly civilians because the attack was “in a secured area with commercial stores for foreign occupiers”
Fridays’ incident marked the third deadly attack in Kabul in less than two months and the worst on a civilian target in the city since February 2010, when suicide attackers charged two residential hotels, killing 20 people.
— With files from the Associated Press