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UN food convoy held up at gunpoint in northern Afghanistan

UN food convoy held up at gunpoint in northern Afghanistan

Gunmen have attacked a United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) convoy in northern Afghanistan, taking the relief aid and beating the drivers, a spokesman for the agency said today.

“Two WFP trucks carrying 20 tonnes of wheat each were stopped at gunpoint and the food stolen by armed gunmen in Aibak city in north Afghanistan on Tuesday,” Khaled Mansour told reporters in Islamabad. The goods on one truck were taken downtown and distributed in the area, while the other truck was reportedly taken to a military unit nearby.

“There is no justification whatsoever for forcibly taking food aid even if it ends up with civilians,” said the spokesman, pointing out that “WFP, which is helping 6 million Afghans in this war and drought-stricken country, is targeting those

civilians who would starve without food aid.”

The drivers were shaken but in good condition, while the two empty trucks were released to the transporter, according to WFP.

In order to prevent future armed robberies, the agency has approached officials from the Afghan Interim Administration in Mazar-i-Sharif, who “promised to help investigate the incident and return the food,” the spokesman said.

The incident highlighted one of the major challenges facing relief agencies in Afghanistan – insecurity, Mr. Mansour noted. “Insecurity varies from one region to another and changes on weekly basis, but – in short – it is one of the main concerns and impediments to our work in Afghanistan.”