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UN condemns bloody weekend in Afghanistan; agencies help flood victims

UN condemns bloody weekend in Afghanistan; agencies help flood victims

The United Nations today condemned separate bloody weekend attacks in Afghanistan, resulting in the killing of seven civilian de-miners and the deaths of six Canadian soldiers belonging to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), which is helping to bring stability to the war-torn country.

On Saturday a convoy of civilian de-mining and security personnel travelling on the Kandahar to Herat road in the south was attacked, leaving seven killed and two wounded and also killing two mine detection dogs.

“The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) strongly condemns this attack on individuals who are actively working to improve the lives and safety of the Afghan community,” spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York.

Separately, a UNAMA spokesperson in the Afghan capital Kabul expressed the world body’s sadness and condolences over the deaths and injuries to the Canadian soldiers, which also occurred in the south of the country.

“The commitment and sacrifice of the men and women of the Canadian armed forces, together with all those serving together under NATO-led ISAF command is an inspiration to us all as they continue to play a crucial role in efforts to restore peace in Kandahar, Helmand and all of Afghanistan,” said Aleem Siddique.

This latest bloodshed comes after the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Tom Koenigs spoke out on Sunday against the killing of Afghan journalist Ajmal Naqshbandi, who had been abducted by Taliban extremists early last month, and called for action to apprehend the perpetrators.

Also in Afghanistan, UN agencies are continuing to help those affected by flooding in the impoverished country. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are providing emergency assistance, including the pre-positioning by WFP of 350,000 tons of food in five locations around Afghanistan for rapid deployment.

In a related development, the World Bank’s Country Director for Afghanistan Alastair McKechnie told reporters in Kabul that while the country faces many challenges, not least of which is poverty and insecurity, progress has been made over the past few years, including much greater access to basic health care and more children in schools.