UN de-miners suspend operation in Afghan province after carjacking

19 November 2003

The United Nations Mine Action Centre in Afghanistan has become the latest UN agency to suspend operations in the southern province of Ghazni until adequate security measures are put in place after an Afghan driver of a vehicle belonging to a partner agency was hijacked.

The driver was carjacked yesterday in Ghazni town - site of Sunday's killing of a UN refugee worker - and beaten by four armed men before he was let go.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said yesterday it was temporarily suspending assistance to Afghan returnees from Pakistan, withdrawing 30 international staff from the border area and closing reception centres in four provinces following Sunday's attack.

Bettina Goislard, a 29-year-old French national working for UNHCR, was travelling in a clearly marked agency vehicle through the centre of Ghazni city when gunmen pulled up on a motorcycle, opened fire and killed her.

On Monday Secretary-General Kofi Annan said the UN was already taking new steps to protect staff that would involve changes in the way the world body works in Afghanistan as it seeks to continue its operations there.


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