Bomb Kills 6, Including 2 UN Workers

, July 28, 2004

July 28 (Bloomberg) -- At least six people were killed, including two United Nations workers, when a bomb exploded inside a mosque in the central Afghan province of Ghazni, the U.S. military said in a statement.

The UN workers, who weren't identified, were registering Afghans for October's presidential election when the bomb exploded, while two other unidentified UN personnel who were injured were flown by UN helicopters to the U.S. military base at Bagram, north of the capital, Kabul, the statement said.

UN spokesman Farhan Haq said the world body's has a report that only two people were killed in the attack -- an Afghan working on the joint UN-Afghan voter registration effort and an individual who was registering to vote. Haq said the UN believes no UN workers were killed in the bombing.

Jean Arnault, the UN envoy to Afghanistan, "expresses his outrage at the killing,'' Haq said from New York.

Islamist fighters opposed to President Hamid Karzai's government have vowed to disrupt the elections, which have been postponed from their original date in June because of security difficulties and voter registration problems. Parliamentary elections have been delayed until April.

The warlords and private militias who were once regarded as the west's staunchest allies in Afghanistan are now a greater threat to the country's security than the Taliban, according to the interim president, Hamid Karzai.

The Guardian (London), July 13, 2004

The UN has already withdrawn its workers from the violent eastern and southern areas of the country. Afghanistan is struggling to recover from the U.S.-led war to topple the radical Islamic Taliban regime and the eliminate al-Qaeda network that plotted the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S., as well as from 20 years of civil war and foreign occupation.

More than 20,000 U.S. and NATO-led troops from 30 countries are trying to extend the authority of Karzai's government beyond Kabul and unify the country.

Doctors Without Borders, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning aid agency, said today it will withdraw from Afghanistan, citing security problems that led to the killing in June of five of its workers in the north of the country.

The group said it is withdrawing because of the Afghan government's "inadequate commitment'' to the safety of aid workers, threats from fighters of the ousted Taliban regime, and the U.S.-backed coalition's use of aid "to win hearts and minds,'' according to an e-mailed statement.

"There's a declining respect for the safety of aid workers,'' the group's Director of Operations Kenny Gluck said by telephone from Kabul. "The framework for humanitarian work is no longer here.'' The group has handed over most of its work to the health ministry and to other aid groups, and will end work in Afghanistan within the next two weeks, he said.

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