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Two Canadians among 21 killed in Afghan explosion

Afghan security forces personnel investigate the Friday's suicide attack and shooting in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a Kabul restaurant, seen in the background, filled with foreigners and affluent Afghans, while two gunmen snuck in through the back door and opened fire Friday in a brazen dinnertime attack that killed 16 people, officials said. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

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Afghan security forces personnel investigate the Friday's suicide attack and shooting in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a Kabul restaurant, seen in the background, filled with foreigners and affluent Afghans, while two gunmen snuck in through the back door and opened fire Friday in a brazen dinnertime attack that killed 16 people, officials said. (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

OTTAWA - Two Canadians were among those who died in a brutal suicide attack on Friday at a restaurant in the Afghanistan capital of Kabul, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird's office confirmed.

There was no further information about the two Canadian victims. Baird's office said it could not release further information due to privacy concerns.

Canada is winding up a military training mission in Afghanistan, but sources in the Department of National Defence told The Canadian Press that no uniformed personnel were among the casualties.

The restaurant is located close to Canada's embassy in Kabul and is a popular spot for Canadians living and visiting the capital. A spokesman for Baird says all embassy staff were safe and accounted for.

"Canada condemns in the strongest possible terms the targeted, cowardly terrorist attack today on a restaurant in Kabul," Baird said in an emailed statement.

"On behalf of all Canadians, we extend our sincerest condolences to the families and friends of those who were killed and injured in this horrible and senseless act of terror."

Afghan officials said a suicide bomber blew himself up outside La Taverna du Liban, which was filled with foreigners and affluent Afghans, while two gunmen snuck in through the back door and opened fire.

Afghan police said 21 people were killed, making it the deadliest violence against foreign civilians in the country since the start of the war nearly 13 years ago.

Kabul police chief Gen. Mohammad Zahir Zahir said Saturday that the victims included 13 foreigners and eight Afghans, and that the majority were civilians.

Three United Nations personnel were among those killed, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. The three were not identified. Britain's Foreign Office confirmed late Friday that a British national was among the dead.

The International Monetary Fund's representative in Afghanistan, Wabel Abdallah, also was among those killed.

Zahir said the three attackers were also killed during Friday's assault on the Lebanese restaurant.

The Taliban claimed responsibility within an hour of the attack. It's part of a stepped-up campaign of violence against foreign and government interests to send a message that the militants are not going anywhere as the U.S.-led coalition winds down its combat mission at the end of the year.

The bombing served as a reminder that although militant violence in the capital has dropped off in recent months, insurgents remain capable of carrying out attacks inside the most heavily guarded areas.

- With files from The Associated Press

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