US and Afghan authorities receive internal UN report on Uruzgan bombing

US and Afghan authorities receive internal UN report on Uruzgan bombing

The United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) today reported that it had given United States and Afghan authorities copies of an internal UN report produced following the bombing in Uruzgan earlier this month.

In a statement released in Kabul, UNAMA noted that the US and Afghan Governments are carrying out an in-depth investigation of the incident. The Mission also voiced deep regret over the loss of life and injuries to civilians, adding, "we are absolutely certain that the United States regrets that such a situation has occurred as well."

The statement repeated the appeal of UNAMA chief Lakhdar Brahimi for US forces "to be extremely careful and hopefully to ensure that such incidents do not happen again; that an in-depth investigation be carried out; and that the protection of civilian lives becomes a primary concern in the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan."

UNAMA stressed that its report should not be confused with a probe of the bombing. The UN "was not involved in either an inquiry or an investigation but [was] simply responding to humanitarian needs as it does everywhere in the world in similar situations." The UN document was produced in conjunction with the local authorities for the Organization's own use "to determine what assistance would be required and could be provided" to the affected area.

Asked about the matter by reporters in New York, Secretary-General Kofi Annan voiced hope that the UN's work would help the Afghan and US Governments "move forward with the investigations speedily."

A UN spokesman in New York said Mr. Brahimi had decided not to go public with the internal UN document, as the Afghan and US authorities had already launched their investigation before the fact-finding report had been completed. Mr. Brahimi "hopes it will be of help to them as they work to establish the facts," spokesman Fred Eckhard said.

Asked why the text would not be made public by the UN, the Spokesman said a UN seal would not be put on a fact-finding report by humanitarian workers that passes judgment on matters which are more competently assessed by logistics, ballistics, human rights, police and military experts. In response to another question, the spokesman said he had seen no evidence that either US or Afghan officials tried to influence the UN's reporting.