BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan -- A car bombing outside a popular Kabul restaurant Friday evening left at least two people dead and 15 injured, officials said.
The powerful explosion tore through a quiet residential neighborhood and rained smoldering car parts down on houses a block away. The attack appeared to target Le Jardin, one of the few restaurants in Kabul still frequented by foreigners.
The Taliban quickly claimed responsibility, boasting on Twitter that its suicide bombers had "inflicted heavy casualties" on "the occupiers' restaurant." The Taliban also said there had been a gun battle with government forces.
Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry, said in a tweet that police had arrested one suspect. It is unclear if there were other attackers who escaped or died in the blast.
The attack was the second bombing claimed by the Taliban in the Afghan capital this week. On Monday, another car bomb killed one person near the Kabul airport. The Taliban said it was targeting foreign troops.
The bombings come amid renewed efforts at peace talks. On Jan. 11, officials from Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States are scheduled to meet in Islamabad to begin discussing solutions to the conflict. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has said the Taliban must reject terrorism to join the talks, while the Taliban has refused to participate until foreign troops leave Afghanistan.
Friday's attack was not the first to target a Western-style establishment. In January 2014, a Lebanese restaurant popular with foreigners came under ferocious attack. A Taliban suicide bomber detonated his explosives outside the front gate before two gunmen shot their way inside, killing 21 people.
In the wake of that and other attacks, many restaurants closed. Le Jardin did not.
The restaurant, a chic French bistro where diners could order a steak, listen to American pop music and find themselves seated near an Afghan government official, did beef up its security in recent years. When a reporter from The Washington Post visited on Wednesday, two days before the attack, he was frisked and ushered through three heavy steel doors before entering the restaurant.
Those security gates may have saved lives on Friday, when the car exploded outside Le Jardin just as the restaurant began serving dinner.
The powerful explosion shook the Qala-e Fatullah neighborhood and sprayed debris for the length of a football field.
“I was talking on the phone when I heard a loud explosion that lit up the whole neighborhood,” said Masoom Ali Hazara, who lives down the street from the restaurant. When he ran outside to see what happened, Hazara said, he saw an old man with shrapnel in his hand.
“The glasses of my house’s windows have been shattered,” he said, “and the car parts of the suicide attacker have fallen inside my house.”
One of the two people killed in the blast was a 12-year-old boy, Kabul police chief Abdul Rahman Rahimi told local television.
Both victims were Afghans.
Mohammad Sharif in Kabul contributed to this report.